Business owners relieved by arrests

With news Monday that police had arrested and charged a Portage La Prairie man and woman in connection with a rash of armed robberies here over the past four months, local business owners are breathing a sigh of relief.
“I’m glad to see it,” said Brian Cawston, who owns Einar’s Foods with his wife, Nancy. “It relieves some pressure off the tellers, that’s for sure,”
Someone tried to rob Einar’s back on Jan. 3.
“You learn a little lesson from all this, though. It makes you think about precautions,” added Cawston. “People assume it can never happen here. But it did.”
“Of course, everybody’s happy they’ve caught [the suspects],” said Mark Fontana, who owns Rainy Lake Sports and Tackle along with his wife, Tina.
His business was robbed at gunpoint on Dec. 30
“I’m just concerned, with the way the system is, they aren’t going to be behind bars for long,” Fontana remarked.
“The staff are very relieved,” said Craig Sanders, who owns both The 364 Store and The Place here.
But he noted the fact the series of armed robberies happened at all has been a wake-up call for the town.
“I’ve had a conversation with a couple of other business owners about upgrading security systems,” Sanders said. “I know I’m looking at a new security system.”
“It’s definitely a big relief,” echoed Gary Rogozinski, president of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce.
“Everybody has had to be concerned about their employees, especially if they’re a business that’s open late or has young employees,” he added. “It’s a big plus to know there’s these two people behind bars now.
“People have to realize from this that if they’re planning on robbing any store here, they’re going to get caught,” remarked Rogozinski, who praised the OPP for their diligence in this investigation.
Rogozinski also said he feels the crime spree served to “open people’s eyes” and has gotten them thinking about security. Following through on implementing these measures, in turn, should work to deter future crime at area businesses.
As reported in Monday’s Daily Bulletin, Fort Frances OPP arrested Neil Craig Brown, 35, and Pamela Marie Magel, 24, of Portage La Prairie, Man. on Friday.
They each have been charged with two counts of robbery using a firearm.
Brown also has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident stemming from a motor vehicle collision that occurred Jan. 3.
The pair appeared in court here Monday. But since they had not yet sought legal counsel, they were remanded to appear in court again here next Monday morning, noted Crown Attorney “Buster” Young.
If they have a lawyer by that time, there may be a date set for a bail hearing, he added.
The pair have been linked with incidents at four local stores since the beginning of December.