|Updated: 12/13/2012 10:01 am
||Published: 12/12/2012 7:39 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A string of armed robberies over the last several weeks has law enforcement agencies warning people about how to lower the risk of getting caught up in the action.
Armed robberies are happening all over Central Arkansas at gas stations, convenience stores, and shopping store parking lots. Law enforcement say businesses typically have employee protocol when robbers strike, but it's often innocent bystanders who wind up getting caught up in the crime as well.
Armed robbers hit the Crackerbox convenience store Tuesday night on Mabelvale Pike getting away with cash while customers looked on. Last week, two people leaving the Outback Steakhouse in West Little Rock got mugged while walking through the parking lot to their car.
The Shell gas station on Chenal Parkway was also recently hit by armed robbers.
Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says with crimes like these, it's important for people to pay attention. Often customers don't know what to do to keep from becoming a victim. "Your average person doesn't have any training, so it's really going to boil down to what you're comfortable doing yourself. If you're in that situation, and it's just a monetary thing, probably the wisest choice is to give up the money."
That's exactly what happened to a customer at the Woodson Grocery Store two weeks ago. While robbers grabbed cash from the clerk, he became a target too. Lt. Minden says whether you're pumping gas, carrying shopping bags back to the car, or checking out at the counter, people can reduce the risk of being robbed. "Walk with your head up. Don't look down. Don't look preoccupied."
That means no fiddling with keys, cell phones, shopping bags, or anything else that presents an opportunity for robbers. "Be alert. We say the same thing over and over and yet it keeps happening."
Lonoke County, Jacksonville, and North Little Rock law enforcement are also warning people to increase their awareness particularly in parking lots. Police in Sherwood say a man walking home to his apartment was robbed at gunpoint in his parking lot by two men. Police say the best thing people can do to help catch criminals is to be a good witness and give a good description of the suspects.
Law enforcement believe some of these armed robberies could involve the same suspects, but police say it's highly unlikely all the crimes are connected.