LEE COUNTY, Fla. - If it seems like WINK News has been reporting on a lot of business robberies this month, the crime stats back that up.
One after another, after another, the Lee County Sheriff's Office and Fort Myers Police Department has released surveillance shots of criminals holding up convenience stores, hotels and banks. Some wear masks, other hide under blonde wigs.
Just in the month of May, WINK News counted at least a dozen robberies at Lee County businesses, most of the suspects armed. There is no "peak" time for crime. The crimes happen in the morning, afternoon and night.
"You are vulnerable any time of the day," Lt. Robert Forrest with Blue Lightning Protection said. "There are patterns that develop here and there that are kept track of. It would be just too general to say there is any specific time to let your guard down."
More crime means more phone calls for Blue Lightning Protection, a private security company made up primarily of former military and law enforcement. "With the headlines in the last couple, two, three weeks, we've seen an upswing in calls regarding business owners that want our cars to do a check on their property," Forrest said. "We basically patrol several properties each and every night."
It's not just businesses. After a recent series of violent home invasions in Collier County, homeowners, even in gated communities, are asking BLP to keep watch. "You want to be proactive. Better safe than sorry," Forrest said.
While police can't predict where or when these crimes happen, they warn that if you're faced with a dangerous situation, don't try to be a hero.
"Just be cooperative," Naples Police Lt. John Barkley said. "You don't want to offer resistance to somebody because you don't know what kind of violence they're capable of doing."
Blue Lightning Protection works closely with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and SWFL Crimestoppers. Forrest advises that if you see something suspicious, don't assume it's nothing. Call 911 right away and let deputies check.