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Police seek Riverside County store robbers

March 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Small businesses are being robbed in Riverside County, with two Murrieta stores most recent. Moreno Valley has been hit by a series of recent robberies.

The common factor in these robberies is how the suspect or suspects operate. Authorities say the suspect tends to hit small businesses with few employees, sparse security, and that are close to freeways.

The search is on for the armed suspect or suspects who held up a pet store and beauty supply store within a week's time.

Murrieta Police believe the robberies are tied to a series of other holdups in western Riverside County.

The latest robbery happened Thursday just after 5:30 p.m. on the 39800 block of Alta Murrieta Drive.

According to police the suspect went inside a beauty supply store and demanded money at gunpoint. The three female employees complied and the suspect left.

Meanwhile in Moreno Valley an increase in robberies led the Riverside County Sheriff's Department to issue a business alert.

"It appears that most of these robbers are coming armed, covering their faces, wearing dark hoods, and they are looking for money," said Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Borja. "It appears that if you give over the money that nobody gets hurt."

The sheriff's department doesn't believe the robberies in Moreno Valley are the work of a single suspect. They are asking store owners to remain on the lookout for any suspicious activity.

Mike Cruz owns Plaza de Majorca. He says he has taken steps to ensure his tenants' safety during business hours.

"Of course we have security, that also helps out a lot," said Cruz. "Of course p.d. is always here, we know them pretty well. We just make a phone call and they come right away."

Surveillance cameras are an added measure that Ruben Gomez took after his Audio Galaxy store was robbed a few years ago. While it may not stop a robbery, he is hopeful it will help investigators should it happen again.

"We're trying to just stay prepared and try to avoid any conflict," said Gomez.

Police advise businesses that if they are confronted, to comply with a robber's demands so no one gets hurt.

Police say a witness may have seen the suspect's face as he was leaving. They are in the process of producing a composite sketch of the suspect.