By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — Falls police detectives are on the hunt for at least two suspects in a rash of convenience store robberies as the new year kicked off.
There have been three holdups since New Year’s Eve but investigators don’t know for sure if they are all related.
“There are similar suspect descriptions,” Detective Lt. Mike Trane said. “But in one robbery we have two suspects and then in the others it’s just one suspect. But the (single suspect) looks like one of the guys from the first robbery. It’s just hard to tell and we’re just not sure.”
So detectives are hoping the release of pictures taken from security cameras inside the stores will help in their investigation. They’re looking for any leads they can get from the public.
“If anyone can help us, we’re definitely looking for help,” Trane said.
The first robbery took place at 3:40 a.m. New Year’s Eve at a store in the 2600 block of Niagara Street. Two suspects entered the store and walked straight to the front counter.
Both suspects were wearing black winter jackets, with hoods tied so tight that only their eyes were visible. Both men also had ski masks covering their faces.
A store clerk, who was cleaning, walked to the counter and one of the suspects then pulled out a black handgun and demanded cash.
“Open the drawer and take everything out of the register,” the suspect told the clerk.
The clerk took some cash from the register and as he handed it to the suspect, the man demanded that he open the store safe. After telling the first suspect he did not have a key for the safe, the second suspect went around the front counter and grabbed some packs of Newport cigarettes.
The suspects then grabbed two empty bank bags and a package of Swedish Fish candy before running from the store.
The second robbery occurred on New Year’s Day at a store in the 1500 block of Pine Avenue.
A clerk told officers that he was working at the front counter, at 10:20 p.m., when a suspect with a large build, wearing a black leather jacket and a scarf covering his face came into the store from the west side of the building. Again, the suspect walked right to the front counter and displayed a large steak knife.
The robber demanded cash and told the clerk to put it in a ripped plastic bag he was carrying with him. The clerk gave the robber some money from his cash register and five packs of Newport cigarettes.
He described the suspect as “tweaking out” as the robbery was taking place. The suspect was last seen running west toward 15th Street.
The last robbery was at 2:49 a.m. Wednesday, at a store in the 400 block of Niagara Street. A suspect, wearing a black jacket and an American flag bandanna over his face, came into the store armed with a sword.
None of the store clerks were injured in the hold-ups.
Anyone with information on the suspects or the robberies is asked to call Falls detectives at 286-4553.