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Published May 07 2013

Suspect in Tuesday gas station theft charged in January grab-and-dash spree

FARGO – A man suspected of swiping cash from the till of a south Fargo convenience store Tuesday morning was also the lone person charged in a theft spree that targeted five stores in Fargo-Moorhead on Jan. 29.

Tuesday’s theft was reported at 5:37 a.m. at Petro Travel Center, 4510 19th Ave. S.

Sgt. Jim Kringlie said a suspect entered the convenience store area of the truck stop, put some items on the counter and asked the clerk for change.

“When the clerk opened the cash register, the suspect reached in, grabbed a bunch of cash and then fled,” he said.

According to Kringlie:

Petro employees were able to get a description of the vehicle, which was broadcast over police radio. As Fargo officers headed to the scene, a West Fargo police officer spotted the red Cadillac heading north on 45th Street.

The officer followed the vehicle to near Interstate 29 and Main Avenue, where the suspect ditched the car and fled north across the railroad tracks.

Fargo, West Fargo and North Dakota State University police established a perimeter around the area and used a police dog to track the suspect into the industrial area north of the tracks.

Employees of Peterson Mechanical at 3001 1st Ave. N. pointed the K-9 handler to an area where they had seen a suspicious male. The suspect saw the dog and took off running.

There was a tall chain-link fence between the K-9 officer and suspect, but the officer was able to call other officers who converged on the suspect and arrested him shortly before 6:30 a.m.

Abdi Abdullahi, 25, of Fargo, was arrested on suspicion of resisting a police officer and two outstanding warrants.

Kringlie said there was no mention of a weapon or use of force by Abdullahi, and no one was injured in the incident.

Jonathon Anderson, 22, a general laborer at Peterson Mechanical, said he saw the heavy police presence and had to take an alternate route to get to work. He said the suspect asked a couple of employees for a light, and they thought he seemed out of place.

Anderson said when the suspect passed in front of the business, he started jogging after the suspect, but stopped when he saw police converge on the man with guns drawn at an approach to the business.

“Once I heard cops say ‘freeze,’ I just was like, ‘OK, I think they’ve got it from here,’ ” Anderson said.

In February, Abdullahi pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court to misdemeanor theft of property in connection with a string of similar grab-and-dash thefts at convenience stores in Fargo and Moorhead on Jan. 29. He received a suspended sentence and 30 days’ credit for time served and was ordered to pay $880 in restitution and fees.

Abdullahi also was charged in Clay County District Court with one count of gross misdemeanor theft and one count of misdemeanor attempted theft in connection with the theft spree. A warrant for his arrest was issued March 7 in that case.

An 84-year-old man who drove Abdullahi to the stores told police he didn’t realize until later that Abdullahi was grabbing money out of store tills. The man wasn’t charged.

Fargo Deputy Police Chief Pat Claus said police will “certainly take a look” at Abdullahi as a potential suspect in the attempted armed robbery Sunday at Bjornson’s Oil at 734 N. University Drive.

“But there’s nothing on the surface that would leave us to believe at this time that he was responsible for that robbery,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528