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Three runaway teens from Columbus allegedly involved in an armed robbery in New Mexico – and possibly Colorado and Texas -- were apprehended with a fourth suspect in March by authorities, according to recently-released information from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

Two of the apprehended juveniles were 16- and 17-year-old boys, along with a 16-year-old girl, according to released information. The boys were arrested and charged with aggravated armed robbery, a second-degree felony; and the girl was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated armed robbery, a third-degree felony. A 16-year-old boy from Provo City, Utah, was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated armed robbery.

Just after 5 p.m. on March 15, the New Mexico State Police responded to an armed robbery at the Milagro Gas Station located off of Interstate 40 near milepost 243, west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, according to released information.

An initial investigation determined that two individuals armed with a firearm, later determined to be a BB gun, entered the gas station, robbed the business and left with an undisclosed amount of money, police said. The individuals then fled eastbound onto I-40 in a gray passenger car.

Just before 6 p.m., State Police officers located the suspect vehicle traveling east on I-40 near milepost 265. A felony traffic stop was conducted and four people were found inside of the vehicle. All four, released information says, were detained and eventually arrested, including the two males described in the robbery.

An investigation determined the four teens arrested were entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as endangered runaway juveniles from Nebraska and Utah. The four allegedly admitted to committing similar crimes in two other states.

Officials, released information says, are working with departments in Nebraska, Texas, Colorado and Kansas to see if additional charges will be filed against the teens, who were not identified as they're minors. It wasn't determined on Thursday whether this happened.

Following their arrest, the four suspects were transported and booked into the Juvenile Detention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Columbus Police Department Capt. Todd Thalken said that he didn’t have any case specifics. He noted that the department keeps files on all of its jurisdiction’s missing people and runaways, but that each instance is handled individually.

“It all really depends on the situation,” Thalken said. “Far more often than not a missing juvenile is a runaway, so we have to walk that line of whether to treat it as a runaway or kidnapping. Because you have to take all of these cases seriously.”

He added that certain youth are known to run away from home periodically and that the names of runaway juveniles are kept confidential.

“An amber alert can be issued if you have good reason to believe that the kid was abducted, but you can’t on a standard missing juvenile,” Thalken said.

The Telegram reached out to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, The Platte County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol for additional information, but none was readily available.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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