Hidden tracker helps police catch man suspected in convenience store robberies

A tracker hidden in stolen cash helped Las Vegas police catch a man suspected of robbing 11 Rebel convenience stores, an arrest report said.

In the report, the Metropolitan Police Department said 11 Rebel stores were robbed between April 7 and May 24 by a Hispanic male who typically wore masks or improvised face coverings and carried what victims described as an assault rifle.

Each of the stores was robbed during the early morning, police said. According to the arrest report, a man matching the suspect’s description would enter the store and demand money from employees; police said the suspect had robbed several stores more than once.

During the May 16 robbery of the Rebel store at 890 N. Pecos Road, the suspect’s take included a tracker, but it malfunctioned, police said. On May 24, the same store was robbed about 5:30 a.m., police said. A call reporting the robbery was placed at 5:33 a.m.

Responding officers approached the store heading south on Pecos and received a signal from the tracker, the arrest report said.

“Once they got to Owens, the indicator flipped directional, and started to point north of their location,” the report said. “The only other vehicle on the roadway at the time was a green Lincoln Navigator heading northbound on Pecos from Owens.”

Officers neared the Navigator and received a strong signal from the tracker. They stopped the vehicle, which was occupied solely by Gregory Vancott, the report said. Because they could see the tracker in the vehicle, the officers detained Vancott, the report said.

After detectives received a search warrant for the Navigator, police recovered several items including a black bag of money and a black MP5 BB gun — the weapon victims apparently mistook for an assault rifle.

Vancott told police he knew about the first tracker, placed in the money from the May 16 robbery, and had intended to quit robbing the stores. During the May 24 robbery, the report said, Vancott asked the clerk whether there was a tracker in the money and was told there was. But Vancott told police he had already spent too much time in the store and fled with the money and the tracker, the report said.

The arrest report described how Vancott seemed to know so much about the Rebel convenience stores. Vancott said that his mother works at a Rebel, and through conversations with her, he made “mental notes” of the store’s workings, the report said, and thus had intimate knowledge of “where money was kept specifically, and why employees couldn’t open the safe later on.”

Vancott, a father of three, said he was unemployed and his wife was the only one in his household working.

“He felt he needed to contribute in some way,” the report said Vancott told police.

In interviews with police, Vancott was shown pictures of 12 robberies. He denied his participation in one, said he “was not sure it was him” in another and admitted to 10, the report said. He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center and faces 11 charges of robbery with a deadly weapon and 11 charges of burglary with a firearm.

Contact Christian Bertolaccini at cbertolaccini@reviewjournal.com and 7021-383-0381. Follow @bertolaccinic on Twitter.

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