LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) - Two clerks at a Lakeland dollar store were ziptied Wednesday night when a robber hit just before closing time. It's believed to be the latest holdup in a rash of robberies pulled off by the same suspect.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the robbery happened Wednesday evening as two employees were getting ready to close the Dollar General on Highway 540A in Lakeland.
The robber can be seen on store surveillance footage following someone into the store. He's then seen ziptying one of the clerk's legs, then demanding another employee show him how to access the store's cash. The robber then ties up the second employee and takes off on a bike with an unknown amount of money. It's believed that the bike is a ruse, and that the suspect tosses the bike in a car or truck before getting away.
Sheriff Grady Judd believes the suspect knows when to strike local businesses.
"He's going into these stores when it's closing time. He's going in when they're starting to count their cash drawers and put their cash away," said Sheriff Judd.
Judd believes the same man has hit at least seven other stores, since December, throughout the Tampa Bay area, including stores in Hillsborough, Tampa, Lakeland and Winter Haven.
Although the man in the video was wearing a medical mask, Judd describes the suspect as a black male, 6-feet tall, weighing 200-250 pounds. He says the suspect sometimes carries a gun, although he did not use one in the Dollar General robbery.
A $3,000 Crime Stoppers reward is being offered in this case. Anonymous tips can be made by calling 1-800-226-TIPS or online at www.P3tips.com.
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