Clerks’ lives made less stressful after arrest
December 29, 2003
By William Ferchland
Tribune staff writer
South Lake Tahoe convenience store owners are celebrating last week’s capture of a man suspected of robbing a number of liquor stores with a gun.
Curtis Allen Elliott was being held at El Dorado County Jail on no bail on three counts of probation violation.
Phil Baker, owner of the Liquor Shack for 25 years, said the arrest “made our day and it made our Christmas.”
Baker said he had to pay someone to “baby-sit” the clerk and he parked cars in different positions in front of his business to make it look constantly busy.
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Authorities are quickly trying to make an armed robbery case against Elliott, 20, who was arrested Christmas Eve at a mobile home park on Emerald Bay Road. Someone contacted police with a tip on his whereabouts.
Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said his office could not “in good conscience” file a complaint against Elliott yet. Uthe would not release Elliott’s photo because of these concerns.
Based on the information they received, authorities obtained three search warrants for three places where Elliott might be staying. On Wednesday, police Sgt. Brian Williams stated Elliott “perpetrated a series of at least six convenience store armed robberies in the city of South Lake Tahoe. We have also recovered several items of evidence related to the crime spree.”
Along with a black ski mask, a black handgun was used in the robberies that included hits on the Tahoe Market, Swiss Mart & Gas, American Oil Number One and Liquor Shack.
The Liquor Shack, located at 2525 Lake Tahoe Blvd., was robbed twice in a two-week span this month. Before those robberies there were only two others in Baker’s 25 years of owning the store.
“(The clerks) lived in constant fear for someone walking through that door and sticking a gun in their face,” Baker said.
He is hoping to call around to the other stores to gather reward money for the anonymous tipster.
“It points out the necessity of keeping your drawer down,” he said. “We have a safe that would take a Sherman tank to remove from the building.”
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com.