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Police: Restaurant robberies on rise in Charlotte

The Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police report a spike in restaurants robberies during a two-month span, and they’re trying to determine if the suspects are organized.

The Charlotte Observer reports that between Dec. 1 and Feb. 3, the number of robberies at restaurants, diners and coffee shops has jumped from 5 to 22 compared with the same time period a year ago.

Investigators have uncovered connections between some of the robberies, and they’ve already made arrests in several cases.

One high-profile robbery occurred at a Pizza Hut on Super Bowl Sunday, when robbers struck as business was tapering off following a big rush before the game.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Capt. Michelle Hummel oversees the department’s robbery unit, and says investigators are racking our brains trying to figure a connection and if there is one.

“We don’t know why this is happening. We are as taken aback as anybody,” Hummel said.

Authorities said the robbers typically strike late at night or early in the morning, when their targets have just one or two employees working. They say the thieves move quickly, shooting through doors and jumping over counters and sometimes taking just seconds to point a gun, grab money and flee.