JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A police search for a man believed to have held up two convenience stores in two days has prompted a neighborhood crime alert in Avondale.
The first holdup was Wednesday at the Superette food store at 3673 Park St. The next morning, a man robbed the Sunoco gas station and food mart at 3621 Park St., only a block away.
Workers at both convenience stores said they believe the same thief struck both locations, and they hope the police catch him before he does it again.
In surveillance video from the Sunoco store, a man wearing a hoodie is seen walking in, going to the counter and pulling a gun on the clerk. There were people in the shop at the time, including two children. One child saw the man pull the gun and backed away.
“He had a gun, and then he wants the money,” said Kenneth Cho, owner of the Sunoco.
Cho was working in the back when the clerk came running in.
He said the customers in the store had to hide from the robber, crouching down behind the shelves.
Within seconds -- and without getting any money -- the would-be thief left.
“I didn't give them nothing,” Cho said.
Police arrived minutes later and canvassed the area but didn’t find the man.
A day earlier, and only one block away, a man fitting the same description robbed the Superette food store.
The manager there said he feared for his life and gave the criminal nearly $300 when he pulled the gun.
He described the robber as a skinny white male in his 20s or 30s, wearing sunglasses, a hoodie, and carrying a silver pistol. He sped off in a silver Hyundai.
The robberies have people who live and work in the historic neighborhood on edge.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office crime-mapping tool shows that in the past month there have been four robberies, 20 vehicle break-ins and 19 burglaries in the area.
“It's kind of shocking, you know,” Heather Mosley said. “I try to stay very aware of my surroundings always. But now, even more so.”
Anyone with information on the robber's identity or whereabouts is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or call anonymous tips in to First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.