NANTICOKE — Three people who kept their word to return and rob a convenience store were caught in the act, police said.
Dylan Monelli and Elizabeth Moore, both of Nanticoke, and a 17-year-old boy were taken into custody outside the Turkey Hill on West Main Street shortly after 1 a.m. Friday. They now face charges of robbery and conspiracy.
Monelli, 22, was also wanted on charges of statutory sexual assault for allegedly engaging in sex acts with a 15-year-old girl. He was arraigned and committed to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $10,000 bail on the sex charges and $2,000 on the robbery charges. Moore, 19, was released on $1,000 unsecured bail. The juvenile was released to the custody of his mother.
Police said they were tipped off by a clerk at the store when they stopped in while on routine patrol around 12:20 a.m., minutes after the trio’s initial visit.
According to a criminal complaint:
Two males and a female came into the store and told the clerk they would be back in an hour to steal cigarettes and other items. They told the clerk that she needed to go to the back by the grill when they returned so nothing could go wrong and the younger male could grab cigarettes from behind the counter and other items. The older male said he lived nearby and they would return.
The clerk told police she went along with the conversation, saying “Yeah, sure” to the trio because she has children and feared for her life. She said she did not know if they would harm her and was uncertain if they had weapons.
Police waited next to the store parking lot and spotted a maroon vehicle pull into the lot around 1 a.m. A skinny male got out of the vehicle, later identified as a Jeep, and went into the store. Police drove their marked vehicle behind the Jeep and saw a man and woman in the front seat. The driver of the Jeep hit the horn to alert the teen inside that police were on scene.
An officer stayed with the Jeep and another officer went inside the store to ask the teen for identification. The officer noticed packs of unopened cigarettes in the pockets of the suspect’s pants and hooded shirt, plus two unopened packages of cupcakes. When asked how he was going to pay for the items, the teen said he wasn’t and was taken into custody and put in a patrol car.
Monelli said he didn’t think the boy would follow through on his comment about robbing the store. Monelli said he drove the juvenile to the store to buy Little Debbie cakes that were two for $1. Monelli later confessed he and the juvenile talked about the robbery.
Moore, who police said was the subject of a missing person report, initially said she heard the boy talk about the robbery and didn’t think he would do it. She recanted, saying she heard Monelli and the juvenile talk about the robbery, but it was mainly the boy’s doing.
The clerk identified them as the people who came into the store.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.