3 robberies in a week

FARGO -- A third robbery in the metro area in less than a week Thursday night has law enforcement looking for connections but confident they will find suspects.

FARGO -- A third robbery in the metro area in less than a week Thursday night has law enforcement looking for connections but confident they will find suspects.

The latest robbery happened at about 11 p.m. Thursday at Cash Wise Video at 3060 25th St. S. in Fargo.

Lt. Joel Vettel said a suspect entered through the store's front door with a black pump-style shotgun and demanded money from the two employees at the front counter.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 165 pounds, wearing a black ski mask, black ski goggles, a black zip-up hooded sweatshirt and dark pants and carrying a black Adidas-brand backpack, Vettel said.

The suspect fled out the store's rear exit with an undisclosed amount of cash, Vettel said, adding it's unknown if he left the scene on foot or by vehicle.


Cash Wise representatives declined to comment Friday afternoon.

The robbery capped off a week of similar crimes. Monday night, three male suspects with two guns reportedly robbed the Super 8 Motel in Moorhead. Police say a lone male suspect with a pistol struck at the Cenex Zip Trip in south Fargo during morning rush hour on Oct. 7.

In all three instances, the suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of money and no one was injured.

Vettel said Friday that a connection among the robberies has not been ruled out.

Moorhead police said they continue to investigate tips about the Super 8 robbery, but so far they haven't panned out. They've also been in contact with Fargo police and authorities in Grand Forks, where the Select Inn was reported robbed by a man with two handguns Wednesday night.

"There's nothing yet to indicate that we're on to the same one, two, three people," Moorhead Lt. Brad Penas said.

Moorhead Lt. Tory Jacobson said metro police historically have a high arrest-and-conviction rate in armed robbery cases. As an example, he pointed to a Feb. 10 Stop-N-Go robbery that's resulted in two convictions and a third person still facing charges.

"People are wrong if they're thinking Fargo-Moorhead is an easy mark" just because it's had three armed robberies in one week, he said.


Moorhead police recorded eight robberies last year and have so far received reports of 10 robberies this year, although some of those may have been false reports, Jacobson said.

According to Fargo Police Department's annual report, officers have solved about 15 percent more robberies than the national average. In 2010, Fargo Police cleared 43.6 percent of its robberies, compared to the 28.2 percent rate reported by the FBI.

The statistics don't specify whether the robbers were armed or not.

A string of robberies in a short time is not an uncommon pattern in the metro area, Vettel said. He said he attributes the pattern to two things: Suspects are on a spree or there are copycat criminals, which Vettel said is the most common reason for the pattern.

"They see an opportunity and then we see maybe one or two copycats from that first incident," he said. "It's not a new trend."

Police also attribute the high arrest rates to relationships they have within the metro area. Vettel said that since crimes such as armed robbery are rare in the area media coverage is amped up and word gets out to the public requesting tips.

Fargo officers also make sure to communicate with businesses open late or overnight, stopping in for chats with employees, Vettel said.

"We really rely on our beat officers to have a handle on the businesses in our area," he said.


Vettel said employees remaining calm and cooperative during a robbery can help lead to no injuries during a heist.

"It's always the best practice to just give them what they want," Vettel said. "If it's just property, property can be replaced, human beings can't. All we ask is be the best witnesses they can be."

Wendy Reuer and Mike

Nowatzki are reporters at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum

Communications Co.

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