Ottawa police have charged three people in connection with a smoke shop robbery attempt they interrupted in central Ottawa on Monday.

Police said three people entered Scotty's Spot on Montreal Road around 10:30 a.m., bound an employee in a back room with tape, damaged three security cameras and took a safe and cigarettes out the back door.

The trio were in the process of loading a vehicle when police arrived and arrested them just before 11 a.m., according to a news release.

The store's co-owner Wayne Robinson said the 20-year-old male employee managed to call them.

“While he was in the back he was able to get a portable phone, they had smashed one of the phones on the desk… he was able to call us at home" through the redial button, he said.

"As soon as he said ‘I’m being robbed,’ Scott, the other co-owner hung up the phone and called 911.

“We’re approximately three minutes from the place so we just flew over there, by the time we got there police had already been on scene and caught the guys coming out the back door.”

There were no injuries, although police said the employee was assessed by paramedics.

”Typically these types of takeover robberies…(have a little higher) level of violence, it can be more traumatic, so he was assessed," said Staff Sgt. Michael Haarbosch of the Ottawa police's robbery unit.

"I think there was a little bit of shock, understandably, with something like this.”

Robinson said the employee, who has worked there off and on for about two years, followed his training and didn't try to resist the robbers.

The three accused, two age 22 and one age 20, have been charged with robbery, forcible confinement, conspiracy to commit and indictable offence and mischief under $5,000.

Haarbosch said all three had previous dealings with police.

The driver of the vehicle was interviewed and released without being charged.

Ottawa police said anyone with information on this or any other robbery is asked to call 613-236-1222 extension 5116 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.