Troubling trend in armed robberies: Inside accomplices

A troubling new trend in armed robberies is emerging, according to the Fayetteville Police Department: An inside job with a store employee conspiring with at least one other person to pull off the crime.

That’s the picture emerging with the robbery of a Fayetteville pharmacy.

A total of four people have now been charged in connection with the Christmas Eve armed robbery at the CVS Pharmacy on North Glynn Street in Fayetteville. One of those charged was a store clerk on duty at the time of the robbery. Fayetteville investigators believe the assistance given to armed robbers by some store employees is an emerging trend.

Michael MacConaugha Jr., 20, of East Point, was the first person arrested in connection with the armed robbery. After he was identified in January and arrested in February, MacConaugha walked into the store wearing a hooded sweatshirt and talking on a cellphone, said Fayetteville Police spokesman Mike Whitlow.

Police said MacConaugha told the clerk he had a gun and demanded money from the cash register, keeping his right hand in his pocket to indicate that he had a weapon.

Investigators suspected at the time that there might have been others involved in the armed robbery, Whitlow said.

The second arrest came in early March when college senior and CVS clerk Joshua King, 21, of Jonesboro, was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, Whitlow said.

Whitlow said the continued investigation led to additional information that King had been involved and had helped plan the armed robbery.

Other parties to the armed robbery have been identified and warrants have been issued for them, Whitlow said. They include 20-year-old Jonesboro resident Zion Shaka and 23-year-old Demarious “Chez” Jenkins, also of Jonesboro. Both men are charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and party to the crime of robbery, Whitlow said, adding that Shaka is also charged with obstruction.

Shaka and Jenkins are currently in the Clayton County Jail on other charges, said Whitlow.

Additional arrests in the Christmas Eve armed robbery are expected, Whitlow said.

Whitlow said conversations with area law enforcement agencies is showing that, “We have a relatively new trend where store clerks are planning or helping to set up armed robberies. The employees involved know they will not get hurt. They look like heroes and the big companies lose the money.”

Whitlow cautioned that at some point the planning will backfire.

“Someday the next person in line will be an off-duty officer or someone legally carrying a gun, and someone will get hurt,” said Whitlow. “Armed robberies planned and executed by employees and their co-conspirators is a stupid and dangerous gamble on their part.”