published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Armed robberies in Avon Park being compared
By PHIL ATTINGER
AVON PARK -- Four convenience stores in Avon Park have reported armed robberies since mid-August.
The most recent was Tuesday night was the I Maze store at 4 U.S. 27, which was robbed at gunpoint at approximately 9 p.m., according to Sheriff Susan Benton.
There were no injuries and the suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to Sheriff's Office reports.
Benton said the clerk didn't call the HCSO immediately, but first called the owner, who sent a representative to the store before reporting the crime to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.
"So it was almost a 30-minute delay before we got there," Benton said. "We even put a dog on the ground and the dog tracked for several blocks, but without any solid information that (track) could have been a customer."
Crime scene analysts were able to lift fingerprints at I Maze in hopes of getting further leads, but again, Benton said those prints could be customers.
She strongly urges anyone who is robbed or witnesses a robbery to call 911 immediately.
This is the fourth convenience store robbery since Aug. 14, when a suspect entered the Shell gasoline station at 998 U.S. 27 N. with a handgun and demanded money.
The clerk opened the cash drawer and handed over the money, but the suspect shot the clerk and fled the scene, Sheriff's Office reports said.
The clerk was treated and released at a local hospital and was expected to survive.
The second robbery was shortly before 11:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at Sunoco convenience store at 999 U.S. 27.
A man standing 6 feet tall with a bulky build came in at closing time wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants, and armed with a knife, reports said.
He forced his way into the store, reports said, then ordered the clerk to open the cash register and get down on the floor. He then fled the store with the money.
The clerk waited a few minutes to make sure the suspect was gone before calling 911, reports said.
A K-9 unit arrived and searched the area, but didn't find the man, described as white/Hispanic and speaking both English and Spanish, reports said.
The third robbery took place on Oct. 8 at the Citgo station at U.S. 27 and Morrill Ave. It was another robbery at gunpoint, Public Information Officer Nell Hays said, but no one was shot or injured.
Benton said she has put all four recent Avon Park armed robbery cases under one detective in hopes of comparing methods and suspect descriptions for similarities.
She also said she has reached out to other agencies to see if they have had similar robberies.
Many communities have rules that require convenience stores to have two people in the store after certain hours or lock the main doors after a certain hour, Benton said.
She said there was a recent incident at Shell Food Mart, 400 E. Main Street, where the suspect did not get in because the clerk had shut down and locked the doors. That provides good prevention, she said.
"Of course, we want to catch these bad guys," Benton said.
Anyone with information is requested to contact Detective Nathan Coogan with the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Unit at 863-402-7250.
Anyone who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward may contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com/.
Really? No One Caught? (by: Really? - 10/28/2013)
OK, I'll say it-
Increase Crime? (by: Fortune400 - 10/27/2013)
In another article was mentioned that in FY2013, there was a 31% increase in calls at Avon Park since they abolished the police department and this increase was because citizens trust law enforcement. I think one of the main complaints about the ex police department was that they were too aggressive, or what others call proactive. In another article, the mayor of Avon Park stated that the police department had five cops per shift, now they are two per shift plus the Sgt. I think the increase of calls is because incidents are in the increase. It does not matter where I live, If need law enforcement, I'm calling, trusting them or not.
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