MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators are trying to find out if a string of armed robberies in the metro are related.
There have been 19 armed robberies since Nov. 17 and most of the businesses are fast-food restaurants in different cities.
The robberies have primarily taken place in the evening hours when there are less employees working and more money in the safe.
“I was pulling pizzas at the time. My co-worker and I were just doing work,” said Christian Dooley.
It was four days before Christmas and Dooley was working an evening shift at Chanticlear Pizza in New Hope. He had about an hour left before closing when a masked man came through the front door and pointed a gun at his face.
“He told me to get down and then he pointed it at my co-worker and told him to open the safe. He did, and the guy took everything and took off,” said Dooley.
Dooley said the man made off with about $300 from the safe, and Chanticlear joined a random list of robbery targets since November. Several Taco Bells have been hit, so has a KFC in St. Paul and a couple of O’ Reilly Auto Parts Stores in the North Metro. In each of the 19 robberies a masked gunman was involved.
“There are a few steps businesses can take to decrease the likelihood they will be targeted,” said Officer John Keating of the St. Paul Police Department.
The St. Paul Police Department offers a crime prevention program where they give advice on how to keep from becoming a target. They want stores to keep a clear site from the cash register to outside, and to have at least two employees scheduled during every shift. They also highly recommend video surveillance.
“The video is a tool that could certainly be used more effectively in cases we have seen,” said Keating.
Keating also recommends having a drop safe and no more than $50 in the cash register.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is leading this investigation and they are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and convictions of those responsible.
In the most recent robberies last week, robbers fired shots inside a St. Paul Taco Bell and a St. Paul gas station. No one was hurt.
WCCO-TV’s John Lauritsen Reports