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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
A robbery occurred at Dollar General at 6414 E. State Blvd., hours after a bank was robbed nearby.

As robberies surge, police seek help

Courtesy Fort Wayne Police Department
Police seek information about this man who approached a teller and presented a note demanding money at the Chase bank branch 6704 E. State Blvd.
Courtesy Fort Wayne Police Department
Image from security camera at Dollar General

Three city businesses were hit by armed robbers in unrelated episodes Tuesday, sparking police to encourage residents to report suspicious activity they see as the holidays approach.

"It's the holiday season, and we always see a spike in these types of robberies at about this time," said officer Raquel Foster, a spokeswoman for the Fort Wayne Police Department.

The spate of robberies included a bank and two convenience stores and began in the morning.

•About 10:23 a.m., a man walked into Chase bank at 6704 E. State Blvd. and gave a note demanding money to a teller. He did not show the teller a weapon, police said.

The suspect left on foot with an undisclosed amount of money and headed toward an apartment complex to the north. Police said the suspect was wearing a black baseball cap and a black hooded jacket. He was black and wore an earring in his left ear.

•A little more than an hour later – about 11:47 a.m. – a man and woman walked into Burger Dairy II at 1450 St. Joseph Blvd., police said.

The woman had a handgun, and the man took money from the cash register. They both left on foot, police said.

Police said the woman was between 5 feet and 5 feet 2 inches while the man was taller. The female wore black pants, gray sweats and white shoes and covered her face with a red bandanna.

The man wore white pants, white shoes and a green sweatshirt. Both were black.

• Just blocks away from the bank robbed earlier, a man walked into Dollar General at 6414 E. State Blvd. about 2:22 p.m.

He approached the cashier with two cans of soda as if to make a purchase, but instead pulled a handgun and demanded money.

The suspect, described as Hispanic and wearing an orange sweatshirt and blue jeans and brown shoes, left on foot toward the east with an undisclosed amount of money.

Tuesday's robberies came on the heels of others in the past few days, including one at a Fort Wayne Arby's on Saturday, a Fort Wayne Subway restaurant on Monday morning and a Walgreens in Huntington on Monday night.

Foster used the Burger Dairy robbery as an example of how a witness noticed something wasn't right beforehand.

A witness in an alley behind the convenience store saw the two suspects pacing back and forth outside the store and then fleeing through that same alley afterward.

According to Foster, police believe the pair were waiting outside for customers to leave and had possibly cased the business beforehand. They masked their faces as though they knew where the business's cameras were, she said.

"A lot of people see suspicious activity, and we encourage for people to call us," Foster said.

That happened in at least one case Tuesday.

According to James Seitz, president of 1st Source Bank, police were called to the bank's downtown branch after "disruptive people" entered the bank in the afternoon.

It's not clear what happened, but employees became upset to the point that the branch closed for the day.

"From our standpoint, it was an attempted robbery," Seitz said.

But Fort Wayne police were not treating it as a robbery, according to a police spokesman. The spokesman said that the Northeast Indiana Bank Robbery Task Force was not called to the scene, which is standard procedure in robberies and attempted robberies.

Seitz also said the 1st Source branch at 6506 E. State Blvd. also closed briefly Tuesday afternoon as a precaution when the nearby Dollar General store was robbed.

Anyone with information about recent robberies is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 436-7867.