SIERRA VISTA — Five youths have been charged with aggravated robbery and robbery for stealing candy from children on Halloween night, Sierra Vista Police and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
The defendants appeared in Cochise County Superior Court’s Juvenile Division Tuesday morning and were released from detention by Cochise County Superior Court Judge Terry Bannon. The five were being held in Pinal County, investigators said.
Bannon had to release most of the defendants because they had no legal representation in court on Tuesday. One of the teens, a 14-year-old who is on the honor roll at his high school and plays on the football team, was represented by Cochise County Legal Advocate Xochitl Orozco. The boy was also released from the detention center on Tuesday.
Sierra Vista Police said the bandits, donning ski masks, jumped out of a black car Sunday night and grabbed candy from trick-or-treaters walking down a couple of streets in the city and at least one road in the county’s jurisdiction.
None of the trick-or-treaters were hurt, police said.
Three calls were made to Sierra Vista Police and the Sheriff’s Office reporting the thefts, which occurred between 8:10 and 9:30 p.m.
The suspect’s ages range from 13 to 17, police said.
After the third call about the candy thefts, Sierra Vista Police stopped the driver of a car matching the description of the robbers’ vehicle and found evidence of both pilfered sweets and the getups the thieves were wearing, said police spokesman Cpl. Scott Borgstadt.
The five suspects in the car — their ages are 13, 14, 15, 15 and 17 — were taken to the Pinal County Juvenile Detention Center, Borgstadt said.
The first incident occurred in the area of Loma Ventosa and Plaza Candia when witnesses reported that a black vehicle pulled up next to a child. Two masked males jumped out of the car and grabbed the youngster’s bag of candy and took off, police said. A few minutes later, the Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting a similar incident near Navaho Street and Yuma Lane. In that instance four youths jumped out of the vehicle and stole a child’s candy, investigators said.
Then at 9:30 p.m., a second call to Sierra Vista Police was made from an address on Knowlton Street. The caller said two children ran to his house and told him a group of people jumped out of a black vehicle and stole their Halloween candy.
“It’s really a shame,” Borgstadt said Monday.
Deputy Cochise County Attorney Doyle Johnstun requested that Bannon set some restrictions for the released teens, such as a 6 p.m. curfew, no contact with their co-defendants except what’s required at school if they attend the same one, and that they be monitored by their families.
The parents of two of the victims spoke up at the court hearing. Their names are not being used so that their children are not identified.
One of the mothers said that while she had compassion for the 14-year-old defendant, she also felt badly for her child: “At the end of the day, my child was hurt. This is very emotional.”
The second parent expressed concern about the oldest of the five suspects — the 17-year-old — who stole candy from her 12-year-old son.
The judge told the parents she appreciated their compassion and lamented that such an “innocent outing” such as trick-or-treating had ended in that manner.
Meanwhile, the parent of one of the suspects called the Herald/Review on Tuesday afternoon and said he felt badly about what had happened.
“I would really like to apologize to the parents (of the victims),” he said. “I think it was a stupid mistake.”
The defendants who were not represented by an attorney at Tuesday’s proceeding are expected back in Bannon’s courtroom on Nov. 8. The teen represented by Orozco is scheduled for another hearing on Dec. 6.
Investigators are asking that anyone with information concerning the thefts call Sierra Vista Police, 520-452-7500.