Three youths suspected of pointing a fake firearm at an employee during a grocery store theft in southeast Calgary were arrested Thursday with help of four police officers on horseback.

The culprits went into the store in the 3000 block of 17th Avenue S.E. at about 9:40 p.m. and were confronted by an employee as they were stealing stuff, police said in a release.

One of the culprits pointed a replica hand gun at the employee before they all fled the store.

Four officers with the mounted unit — who were on routine patrol in the area with their equine partners, Vimy, Ortona, Juno, and Maverick — responded along with other officers.

ortona and const. Rob MacLeod

Const. Rob MacLeod was riding Ortona when they helped arrest the youths on Thursday night. (CBC)

"We noticed three males matching the description coming down the pathway," said Const. Rob MacLeod.

Two of the youths surrendered, but the third kept running. He ran about 100 metres farther before he was cornered in the 3200 block of 32a Avenue S.E. Nearby residents helped by pointing out where he was hiding, MacLeod said.

All three were arrested and handed over to regular street officers.

The replica handgun, which one of the youths had thrown into a backyard, was later recovered.

One of the youths was charged with one count of pointing a firearm and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

MacLeod says it's not unusual for the mounted unit to get involved in the pursuit of suspects.

"When it does happen, we find the horses are very effective," MacLeod said.

Since 2016, the Calgary Police Service has named all its new horses after historical Canadian battles.

police horses Juno Maverick Vimy

From left to right, Juno, Maverick and Vimy were the other three horses involved in the capture of the three suspects after the store robbery in Dover. (Calgary Police Service)