WICHITA, Kan. -- A suspect arrested in Wichita last weekend for five robberies at area QuikTrips is facing a federal charge for one of those crimes.
The U.S attorney's office said that 21-year-old Samuel Vliet is charged with one count of commercial robbery. The indictment alleges that he robbed the QuikTrip at 2106 South Rock Road early Saturday morning.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Vliet is accused of robbing four other QT locations in Wichita between Wednesday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 8.
Wichita police arrested a man they suspect is responsible for five QuikTrip robberies between Wednesday and Saturday.
The string of robberies began around 4:25 a.m. Wednesday morning at the QuikTrip location at 1620 S. Webb. Another followed Friday night at 127th Street East and 21st Street North.
Three QT locations were robbed within about 10 minutes early Saturday: 4:20 a.m. at 5602 E. Harry, 4:24 a.m. at 1620 South Webb again and 4:31 a.m. at 2106 S. Rock. In each case, he walked into the store and demanded money.
After the second robbery Saturday, a witness saw the suspect drive away in a red Chevrolet pickup truck. Officers were aware of other QuikTrip stores in the area and drove over to the location on South Rock.
They saw a red Chevrolet truck sitting empty in a nearby parking lot, then witnessed the suspect running from the QuikTrip toward his truck. He slipped and fell in the snow and was taken into custody. Right after, 911 received a call from an employee of that store, reporting a robbery.
The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Samuel L. Vliet. He was booked on five counts of robbery.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh applauded Wichita police for their efforts.
"Our people did the right thing and law enforcement obviously did a really good job of zeroing in and figuring out a pattern and getting this guy off the streets," Thornbrugh said.
He says the arrest comes as a relief, not only for QuikTrip but for other area businesses.
"It doesn't matter if it was us or anybody else. You got a guy off the streets that was going to continue to rob anybody," Thornbrugh said. "We just happened to be the one he chose."
The suspect did not choose wisely. QuikTrip is well-known for its extensive and advanced security systems. Thornbrugh says over the years the company has brought in experts to make sure its security is top of the line.
"We've spent a lot of time dealing with law enforcement and dealing with the new technology that is out there and we're always making sure that we enhance the system," Thornbrugh said.
He says they do that so they are prepared when someone like this suspect is bent on breaking the law.
"We don't wait for things like this to happen. We continuously sit down and evaluate everything that we are doing," Thornbrugh said. "It's all about protection and security for our employees and our customers.