Richmond police are trying to track down a slew of suspects after four robberies within about four hours Tuesday night.
Thieves hit an elementary school, a Walmart, a gas station and a Family Dollar store. Police say the crimes aren't connected, but most of the crooks were armed with guns.
The first robbery happened at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in North Richmond. Investigators say a man was repairing an air conditioning unit outside, when he was approached by two men wearing ski masks. One had a gun. The suspects stripped the victim of his cell phone and money.
An hour later, another man raided a Fas Mart in South Richmond. Employees say a man wearing a ski mask entered the store carrying a plastic bag. He approached the register and demanded money. However, the two ladies behind the counter didn't comply. Instead, they ran into a back room and locked the door. The robber took off with nothing.
Meantime, a confrontation erupted in the Walmart parking lot, on Sheila Lane in South Richmond. A man with a gun demanded money from his victim in a parking lot. But the man resisted, and the suspect fled.
The crimes may be a reminder that the upcoming holidays mean more shoppers, more money in the register, and more opportunity for robbers.
Thieves don't have to be after much, either.
Two gunmen also held up a Family Dollar store on Midlothian Turnpike, for cigarettes, about 9 p.m. Tuesday. Surveillance pictures show one of the robbers aiming a gun at the cashier. The suspect beat the employee in the head with the handgun.
Richmond police say both shoppers and employees need to be extra careful, particularly during the holidays. Shopper Marlene Wheatley has a regular routine.
"I'm usually (park my car) under lights, and I'm right where I want to put my basket, and when I leave the store, I'm constantly aware of if anybody is behind me," said Wheatley.
None of the suspects have been caught. Anyone with information should call Richmond Police or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.
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