FORT MYERS, Fla. - An alleged robber, accused of striking three neighboring businesses is behind bars tonight. WINK News first brought you this story two weeks ago. We are now learning this is not the first time the suspect has been caught up in this type of crime.
Police say 35-year-old Joshua Hess hit the three businesses in a matter of minutes. According to the report, he tried to rob Dollar General, Mangia Bene right next-door, and finally, Use Your Imagination, the only place he actually got money. Each time, cashiers said he used a cardboard sign with the written message, "give me all you got."
"Great," Mangia Bene owner Teresa Salvatore said. "They got him. It's fantastic."
Workers on that stretch of U.S. 41 in Fort Myers can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that police have arrested Joshua Hess.
"There's cameras all around," Salvatore said. "This guy wasn't all that, all that smart, I guess."
But, he was persistent. March 20th, police say Hess targeted three separate businesses. First: Dollar General. The report states, he showed a cardboard note that read "give me all you got." The cashier thought he was joking. He walked out, saying he was "just kidding and was filming the incident for YouTube."
Next, police say Hess walked next-door to Mangia Bene, where surveillance video caught the whole thing. Same note. Same outcome. "I looked at him, asked him, are you serious?," Mangia Bene employee Amanda Lee recalled. "And he's like, yes. And I'm like, I don't have access to the register."
He got impatient and walked out. Finally, he walked to Use Your Imagination. But, this time, the report states he implied he had a gun, saying, "if I get mean, things will go different."
The cashier attempted to pepper spray Hess but the can was empty. He pocketed $163.
"The girl that was working, still working here, She ID'd him at the police station," Salvatore said. "As soon as she said this is the guy, the police already knew that that was the guy."
We stopped by Hess's most recent address. A neighbor told WINK News he's not surprised. Police cars were a common sight.
"There was chaos on and on," the neighbor said. "He had his troubles. Everybody messes up in life I guess, so everybody deserves a second chance. But, when you keep stepping on yourself, over and over, no."
We checked Hess's criminal background and we found burglary and theft arrests dating all the way back to 1998.
Employees at Dollar General and Use Your Imagination couldn't speak to us on camera, but tell us they're thankful Hess was finally caught.