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Morden man charged in rural bank heists

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Police have charged a man from Morden in connection with five bank robberies committed across southern Manitoba over an eight-week span.

Brett Ashton Krashel, 30, faces four counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. He remains in custody following a Monday court appearance.

Manitoba RCMP detailed the work that led to Krashel’s arrest during a press conference at “D” Division headquarters in Winnipeg Jan. 19.

RCMP HANDOUT RCMP say the man who attempted to rob TD Canada-Trust in Steinbach on Nov. 10 of last year was 30-year-old Brett Ashton Krashel of Morden.

“This was not an easy investigation,” RCMP Insp. Tim Arseneault said.

The suspect used a COVID-19 face mask to his advantage during the robberies, Arseneault said, making it harder for investigators to identify him.

The first robbery occurred at the TD Canada-Trust branch in Steinbach on Nov. 10 of last year. A male entered the bank at 4:40 p.m. and passed a note to the teller but fled before obtaining money.

Arseneault said cash was stolen during the other four robberies, which occurred in Lowe Farm on Nov. 14, Glenboro on Dec. 8, and the same branch in Miami on Dec. 23 and Jan. 3.

In every case, the suspect used a note to demand money from a teller. Arseneault said some of the notes claimed the suspect was armed.

While no weapon was ever produced, Arseneault said the threat of one “no doubt impacted the bank employees and anyone who was in the bank at the time of the robberies.”

“We’re always concerned that bank robberies could turn violent very quickly,” he added.

Surveillance footage showed the man wore similar clothing but fled in a different vehicle each time.

“A clear pattern was emerging, and we knew that these robberies were going to continue until the suspect was identified and arrested,” Arseneault said.

A breakthrough came when a keen-eyed member of the public jotted down a licence plate number after the fifth robbery and shared it with RCMP.

“While the vehicle did not identify the suspect, it helped investigators to narrow down and eventually identify a person of interest,” Arseneault said.

RCMP arrested Krashel on Jan. 9 at a home in Morden. Two search warrants were executed the same day at homes in Morden and the RM of Hanover. Evidence seized included clothing and Canadian currency.

Arseneault said “thousands” of dollars were stolen but wouldn’t specify how much, or the exact amount recovered.

“We did recover money. We did not recover all of it.”

Arseneault said investigators have yet to identify a motive behind the crimes. They are now working to determine if anyone else was involved.

Court records show Krashel was convicted of drug possession and breaching court conditions in 2015. He was sentenced to time served and a series of small fines.

His robbery charges have not been proven in court.

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