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Police: Guard Tied Up By Robbers In Joliet Was Part Of Heist

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) -- Police in Joliet say the tables were turned when the victim of a crime turned out to be part of the problem.

As WBBM Newsradio's John Hultman reports, last November, the manager of the Carson Pirie Scott store in the Westfield Louis Joliet Mall was closing up for the night. She was trying to set the alarm and found that the roof hatch was open.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Hultman reports


There had been work on the roof, and the manager thought a worker might have neglected to close the hatch, police told the Joliet Herald-News.

A security guard, Jose Mejia, volunteered to go up on the roof and fix the problem. But he was gone for a long time, and the manager went upstairs to see what was taking so long.

As the manager headed out to find Mejia, a man masked with a bandana and armed with a gun walked down the shut-off escalator. The gunman, identified by police as Christian Ibarra, forced the manager into an upstairs office, where she found Mejia already bound with duct tape.

The safe was wide open, and more than $10,000 had been taken, police said.

The manager was also tied up, but she and Mejia were able to get free when the robber left.

But police later learned there was more to the story than met the eye. It turned out Mejia was actually the ringleader of the robbery operation, and was tied up just as a ruse.

Mejia, 23, of the 2900 block of Sierra Avenue in Joliet, was arrested Wednesday night along with Christian Ibarra, 19, and Norma Ibarra, 22, both of the 2400 block of Bynum Boulevard in Joliet. They were all charged with armed robbery and aggravated unlawful restraint.

Detectives Ross was able to corroborate information police were given earlier this week that led to the arrests, Joliet police Cmdr. Brian Benton said.

"Norma Ibarra was involved in the planning of the robbery and detectives went to her residence (Thursday) night, and she came to the station voluntarily," Benton said.

Both Ibarras reportedly confessed to participating in the robbery, while Mejia declined to answer questions.

Benton said a .40-caliber handgun was seized from the Ibarras' residence following their arrest.

The Joliet Herald-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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