JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An adult arcade in Jacksonville's Paxon neighborhood was held up three times this year before a robbery early Monday morning when a security guard was shot and killed, police records show.
The High Score Arcade on North Edgewood Avenue was robbed in February, April and May, and a person was shot in front of the business on Sept. 1, according to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reports.
On Feb. 2, a gunman ordered an arcade employee to open the safe and got away with $8,000, police said.
On April 20, according to police, a gunman emptied the cash register and also got an estimated $10,000 from a storeroom.
On May 15, two people, including at least one who was armed, ordered an employee to open the safe and emptied the cash register, police said. The amount lost was not listed on the police report.
Just after 2 a.m. Monday, the fourth robbery this year took place at High Score Arcade. When officers arrived, they found the security guard had been shot during the robbery. Investigators said the two robbers -- a man and a woman -- then ran off.
The security guard was transported to an area hospital, where he died. Under their interpretation of Marcy's Law, police will not name the victim but said he was 37 years old.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson was not surprised by the number of times the place has been robbed.
"Because they have shown vulnerability," he said. "It’s hard to detect anything going on if you just look outside the building. It’s dark. It’s shaded.”
Jefferson said the windows are so tinted that anyone outside would have never seen a robbery in progress on the inside. He also said arcade businesses are targeted because crooks know these businesses are cash-only operations.
“People know there’s a lot of money going on," Jefferson said. "I’m certain these robbers cased the place out before they hit it, probably on more than one occasion and probably more than two or three of them.”
But there was one thing that did surprise him.
“I am very surprised that there have not been more victims from people who are going in and out of these places," Jefferson said. "They're definitely going in with money and some of them are coming out with winnings.”
He added that patrons are likely not targeted because crooks know they can get thousands of dollars by robbing the business rather than robbing someone who might only have a couple of hundred dollars at most.
Crime is a primary reason the Jacksonville City Council voted earlier this year to close down all adult arcades by next February. Several arcade owners and one attorney told News4Jax there is going to be a legal challenge and request for an extension on the date set for these businesses to close.
News4Jax has documented nearly 100 of these business operating in Jacksonville. The city shut down a dozen of them that did not have the proper permits and is investigating another 23 with questionable permits to operate.
The High Score Arcade does have legal permits and is able to remain in business for another five months -- unless there is an extension.
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