Man arrested after series of robberies at dollar stores in Duval, Clay counties

Steven Nelson Jr., 23, arrested, charged with armed robbery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have announced an arrest after an armed robbery at a Family Dollar store.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the robbery was part of a pattern of similar robberies at dollar stores in Duval and Clay counties.

The Sheriff's Office said Steven Nelson Jr., 23, was part of a robbery at the Family Dollar in Fort Caroline in October. According to police, Nelson took park in the armed robbery with another man who hasn't been identified.

Police said Nelson dropped a cell phone during an armed robbery in June, and that’s how they tracked him down.

Investigators said two masked men waited until the store was about the close, then walked in, held the employees at gunpoint and demanded they unlock the safe and cash registers.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson found it interesting that the robbers knew the safe had time locks.

"They had to have inside knowledge of what's going on," Jefferson said.

The employees who were held at gunpoint told News4Jax they agreed with Jefferson's theory about the safe locks.

According to investigators, the mode of operation in each robbery appeared to be the same. Two or three robbers would enter the store 10 minutes before closing. Their face was always covered, and at least one of them was always armed with a gun.

In each case, the robbers make demands that indicate they have firsthand knowledge of cash handling procedures and locations of drop box keys. They also made the employees drop the cash into plastic shopping bags, and the robbers never appear to be in a rush.

"That's a long time for a robber to hold a gun on a person waiting for a safe to time itself out so that they can access it," Jefferson said. "Tensions are building up. The victims are nervous."

No injuries were reported in any of the robberies.

As of Thursday, Nelson remained in jail without bond.

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