EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 14, 2014

Police issue alert as armed robberies persist

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — In a wave of armed robberies this weekend, a convenience store lost $1,500 cash and a resident was robbed of $700 he was carrying, police said.

As a rash of armed robberies continue in the city, police are again warning business people and residents not to keep excessive amounts of cash on hand and to be aware of their surroundings. Be vigilant and call police immediately to report anything suspicious.

And if you are a robbery victim, “I wouldn’t offer up any kind of aggressive resistance,” Acting Police Chief James Fitzpatrick advised yesterday.

New Mayor Daniel Rivera met with Fitzpatrick yesterday morning to discuss the gunpoint robberies, which have noticeably and dangerously upticked in the city since December.

Detectives are investigating the armed robberies, some of which may be related, and increasing patrols in various areas of the city. No surveillance images or strong description of the suspects was available from police yesterday.

“I am not going to micro-manage but we have a crime problem we have to fix,” Rivera said after the meeting.

“If people think it’s OK to do something like this in the city of Lawrence they are absolutely wrong,” Rivera added.

Police are investigating seven armed robberies that occurred this past weekend, the majority on Saturday night.

A Pizza Hut delivery driver reported being robbed at gunpoint at 30 Byron Ave. at 10:29 p.m. Saturday. Less than 30 minutes later, a victim reported being struck in the head with a gun and robbed near 535 Hampshire St.

Earlier in the evening, a Bennington Street convenience store was robbed of $1,500 it had stowed in the register. The store was equipped with security cameras but they were not working when two masked men entered the store at 9 p.m.

One of the men wielded a silver handgun, which he pointed at the clerk and said in Spanish “Do what I tell you or I will shoot you,” said Fitzpatrick.

The robbers then fled with the $1,500 cash. Fitzpatrick said no business should have more than $150 in the register at any time. “That’s plenty to make change,” he said.

Police records from Saturday also show there were armed robberies on North Parish Road at 7:42 p.m., on Eutaw Street at 9 p.m. and at 11:23 p.m. at 26 Farnham St.

In an incident at 10:52 p.m. in the 500 block of Hampshire Street, a man was robbed after he was struck in the head by a robber with a gun.

Back in November and December, police started seeing an increase in armed robberies a crime trend blamed on it getting dark earlier and people were carrying more cash for the holiday season.

In one incident, a woman was robbed of $2 cash at gunpoint after leaving her job at a Common Street incident. In another robber, a Chinese food delivery driver was robbed at gunpoint at Eutaw and Park streets after a bogus food order was called in.

In the latest incidents, the robbers were wearing masks and hoodie-style sweatshirts in various colors. Late Saturday night, police were searching for a Honda Civic that may have been connected to the robberies.

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Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.