3 Employees tied up after robbery in Phoenix

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX  -- Five people were bound and gagged by robbers inside a west Phoenix business Wednesday afternoon according to Phoenix Police.  Police said the robbers zip-tied all the victims’ wrists, duct-taped over their mouths and locked them in a closet.

The crime started mid-afternoon when police were called to Skyline Wholesale Distributors at 31st Avenue and Thomas.  When they arrived, they saw a white van tear away from the scene and ram another car.  Police gave chase.

One person jumped out of the van at 27th avenue and Glenrosa and was arrested.  The driver kept going but didn't get far -- arrested at 28th Avenue and Weldon.

By that point, police had two of the three robbery suspects and the white van they'd been chasing.  However, they soon learned the real drama was back at the business where three men and two women were still tied up.

No one was seriously hurt but police said several of the victims had minor cuts and scrapes from trying to escape the zip-ties.  Police also said the bad guys threatened the victims with a knife. 

The owner of the business is out of the country on a vacation in India according a friend.  That friend was one of the people who noticed something wrong at the business and went to investigate, almost becoming a victim himself when one of the robbers met him at the door.

“He opened the door and from behind the door he called me, 'please, come, come, come inside,”’ said ,Anand Shukln, a friend of the business owner and witness to the crime.  “I asked, 'where is the other guy who works here?' [He said,] 'I am a new employee, just come, come in.' I say, 'no, I don't want to come in,' and run away."

Shukln said he called the business owner who then called police, leading to the short car chase.

Police later learned that the white escape van loaded with stolen goods was, itself, stolen from Skyline Wholesale. 

A third suspect was still at large as of Wednesday night.  Police had very little information on that suspect, only saying that he was driving a black passenger car -- possibly a BMW or Mercedes.