Midtown teenagers targetted in a series of "swarming-style" robberies at Yonge and Eglinton
Six teenagers have been arrested but others remain at large
Several teenagers have been targeted at the Yonge Eglinton Centre at 2300 Yonge St.
The midtown community is on full alert after a dramatic rise in swarming robberies in the Yonge and Eglinton area as young teenagers have been confronted by large groups and robbed, some at knifepoint.
Police have arrested multiple young offenders in connection with the string of robberies that began in January of this year. Since that time, 11 incidents have been reported.
Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, corporate communications officer with the Toronto Police Service (TPS), said the robberies have been hostile and frightening for victims.
“This has been going on now for a number of weeks. They’re swarming-style robberies where, out of nowhere, victims are approached, some are threatened, and they’re demanded to give up their personal property,” said Sidhu.
Sidhu said that, in total, six arrests have been made and 10 charges have been laid so far in connection with the incidents, and not all the robberies have been related to one another.
She said there are still multiple outstanding suspects.
“We have had six young people arrested in total with regard to these swarming-style robberies, and they are not all linked. These are separate incidents, and we’ve got different groups committing this act of violence,” she said.
The first robbery occurred on January 17.
Allegedly, a 14-year-old boy was walking through the Yonge Eglinton Centre when a group of six boys called out to him, demanding he give up his personal property. One of the attackers pulled out a knife and became physical with the boy and took his jacket before the entire group fled the scene.
Later, on February 1, a 14-year-old boy was charged with robbery with an offensive weapon.
Another attack at the mall occurred on February 5, when two boys pulled another 14-year-old boy around a corner, one of them demanding personal property while the other watched for witnesses.
Eventually, a security guard intervened, but the boys had already taken cash from the victim and fled the scene. Two days later, another 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged with robbery.
On February 8, a 14-year-old boy was selling tickets to a school event in the mall when a group of six boys started following him through the mall. When the victim entered a store in the mall, two of the six boys approached him, threatened him physically and took his backpack, cash and cellphone.
Later in February and into March, three more boys were arrested with robbery and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.
Another robbery occurred on February 23, involving a group of boys attacking three boys and a girl in the middle of the Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue intersection.
On March 1, a 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with robbery with violence and possession of a schedule II substance.
In the most recent incident on March 8, TPS said the perpetrators made references to a handgun and showed a knife to victims.
“The majority of the acts are very violent and threatening, so we are urging the public to be vigilant, especially around Yonge and Eglinton. If anyone is a victim or a witness to these robberies, we do ask that they come to police or call Crime Stoppers if they want to be anonymous,” said Sidhu.
Andy Gort, president of the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA), said residents are on alert.
“It’s very unusual. We are upset about it, and we’re concerned about it. We don’t have a lot of knowledge in terms of why or who did it, but we do hope that there is enough police presence in our area to make sure that the area is monitored properly,” Gort said.
Police are urging victims and witnesses with information to come forward, so they can put an end to the string of incidents.