As popular 1980s jingles go, McDonald’s said, “You deserve a break today” and Wendy’s asked, “Where’s the beef?”
On Monday, two Burger King employees likely wondered, “Where’s the jailbreak?” after police arrested them for staging an armed robbery to steal at least $6,000 from the business.
Police arrested Payson’s Burger King manager
Ryan Cody Warren, 28, and his wife, Jennifer Lynn Warren, 22, who is also the restaurant’s assistant manager, on charges of false reporting to law enforcement and theft.
They remain in county jail, Ryan on a $5,000 bond and Jennifer on a $7,500 bond.
The couple’s alleged accomplice, Ryan Michael Padilla, 28, of Prescott Valley, bonded out Wednesday after posting $2,500. He faces a theft charge.
The bizarre case unfolded just before 3 p.m. Monday when the Payson Police Department got a call from the store’s manager. Cody reported his wife Jennifer had been kidnapped at gunpoint from the Burger King, 301 S. Beeline Highway, and forced to ride to a remote location north of Payson to hand over the store’s deposit, said Payson Det. Michael McAnerny.
Jennifer later told officers a man had approached her with a weapon as soon as she walked out of the restaurant with the money, which she was going to walk over and deposit at Bank of America. She said the man, dressed in all black, demanded she get in his car.
When McAnerny arrived at Burger King and started questioning the Warrens, he “determined fairly early on that the incident did not appear as it was being purported to be.”
“There were lots of holes in her story,” McAnerny said.
The couple was brought to the police station and interviewed further.
“The interviews are done and her story falls apart, she gets arrested, she confesses to doing an inside job,” he said.
Jennifer reportedly confessed to McAnerny that they had concocted an elaborate scheme to steal the money.
Padilla, who allegedly worked with the couple years ago, posed as a robber to relieve Jennifer of the deposit at gunpoint.
So on Monday, Padilla allegedly drove to Payson dressed in black, waited outside the Burger King and did indeed demand Jennifer get in his vehicle. He then drove away with the money and returned to Prescott Valley.
The trio allegedly thought acting out the robbery would make their story more credible. The only problem: no one witnessed the “robbery” and Jennifer quickly folded under officer scrutiny.
“It was determined that in fact she had conspired with her husband to stage the armed robbery and actually commit a theft of the money,” McAnerny said.
With the assistance of the Prescott Valley Police Department, officers located Padilla at his home.
McArnerny later picked Padilla up from the Camp Verde jail. As the men drove to Payson, Padilla allegedly showed McArnerny where he had stashed his “robber” clothes in some bushes outside of town.
McArnerny explained he suspected early on that something was not right with the couple’s story.
“It was not holding water.”
First, the $6,000 cash deposit Jennifer was making was more than it should have been if they had been making regular deposits.
McArnerny said he knew this because he has arrested two other Burger King managers for theft.
“The bad thing for them is I have done this twice already so I know the deposit history ... I know so many different things just because I have done this so many times, so it was super disadvantageous for them,” he said.
The Warrens were reportedly not aware of those ill-fated managers.
The couple had worked at the restaurant for 2.5 years, McArnerny said.
McArnerny said he gave the trio points for creativity.
“Realistically they did it right — they took a couple of extra steps, you know to have a guy actually come ... you usually don’t see that,” he said.
“I talked to the people and basically we got them all to fold and recovered $6,000 cash.”