This is the kind of news that is as astonishing as it is unfortunately recurrent. Robberies of video game stores, such as GAME, for example, remain commonplace. Some of these cases stand out for different reasons: a larger amount of money than usual, a burglar with unusual behaviour and an incredible story...
The employees' trauma, a determining factor in the penalty
The case of the day comes from the United States this time, and more specifically from California. Frederick Lopez Jr., a young man aged 28, was just sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was convicted of robbing no less than 4 GameStop stores in the region, all during the 2018 year. The four robberies, which took place in Lynwood, Rowland Heights, West Covina and Brea, totalled an estimated £100,000 worth of merchandise.
A considerable sum, to which £1,000 in cash can be added. Almost two years after the events, Lopez was arrested as a result of a joint investigation by the local police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After pleading guilty last year to 'one count of interfering with commerce by robbery' and another for 'brandishing a firearm to commit a crime of violence,' Lopez Jr. was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and fined about £102,000, to be paid as restitution.
Announced in a press release from the US attorney's office, the sentence, therefore, appears very drastic for an act that has become almost commonplace. But according to the press release, the prison sentence is more about the harm done to GameStop employees than about the value of the loot.
The individual actually entered the stores at night, brandished a gun and ordered GameStop employees to load game consoles and video games into the store's bags. The prosecutors say this was an act with far-reaching consequences:
'Armed robberies such as these, where guns are brandished at the victims, also leave a substantial amount of lasting stress and trauma that the victims remember for years, some for the rest of their lives.'