LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The Lee County Sheriff's Office believes a pair of robbers may be targeting Lee County businesses and their customers.
In the last month and a half, there have been at least a half a dozen, each carried out in similar ways. The most recent happened early Friday morning at the Waffle House on Daniels Parkway. Deputies say the robbers had weapons and wore masks. They reportedly forced staff to the ground and even beat some of the customers.
"We are seeing a progression of violence and that's a scary thing so we are trying to find out who they are," Trish Routte with SWFL Crimestoppers said.
Since January 18th, there have been at least six carried out in similar ways.
The first was a Pilot Truck Stop on Plaza Drive in Fort Myers. It was hit once again February 10th. February 14th, a Chevron Gas Station on Daniels Parkway was robbed. February 16th, two suspects were seen robbing a Circle K in North Fort Myers. An hour later, the same happened at a Waffle House on Palm Beach Boulevard. And, the most recent happened Friday morning at the Waffle House on Daniels Parkway.
"They are coming in very quickly, very confident, very bold," Routte said. "They take control of the situation. They have absolute control of the business when they walk in there."
Investigators are seeing similarities each time. They happen between Friday and Sunday in the early morning hours. Most locations are close to I-75. Suspects are always masked and always armed.
"We've also seen a progression of violence," Routte said. "In the first few robberies, they did point a handgun, they did imply some kind of violence. But, in the last two robberies we've had, there's actually been physical contact."
WINK News asked the FBI, what should you do if you're caught in the middle of an armed robbery? They said the main consideration is safety. Don't confront the robber. Give them what they want. Note what they're wearing and characteristics like height, eyes and tattoos, but don't let them see you stare.
And, don't share observations with other witnesses. They said that could taint your own account once you talk to police.
The sheriff's office is not saying all six of the cases are connected, only that they believe Friday's robbery may be related to a series of violent robberies.