By MORGAN MANNS
‘Tis the season.
For both holiday shoppers and holiday robbers.
It’s not unusual at this time of year for the Grinches of the tri-county area to make an appearance and steal things from local stores or homes.
In light of recent armed robberies, Fostoria Police Chief Keith Loreno is providing insight on how business owners and employees can better protect themselves and their businesses.
“The holidays are approaching and unfortunately it’s prime season for thieves. These are very unfortunate and serious situations but there’s ways to prevent them and ways to help us catch the bad guys,” he said, providing a quick list.
• Ensure all points of entry — other than the customer entry — are closed and secure.
Loreno said thieves look for weak points. If an employee goes out a back door to smoke or take the trash out and leaves the door unlocked or propped open, it provides that weak point for subjects to take advantage.
• Ensure drop boxes are secure and that large amounts of cash aren’t left on hand.
With the holidays fast approaching, Loreno said thieves are looking for a quick cash grab. Leaving as little money as possible in registers will help prevent a large loss of store revenues.
• Ensure all security devices, such as video and hold-up alarm systems, are enabled and properly functioning.
All employees should be aware of where the alarms are and how to be sure the video surveillance systems are properly working.
• However, the biggest thing, according to Loreno, is being aware of your surroundings.
“If there’s someone that is just not acting in a manner that appears appropriate or gives you alarm, call the police,” he said. “We’d rather prevent the crime to begin with if we can.”
Monday evening Hilton Food Mart, 121 S. Countyline St., was robbed at gunpoint around 9:30 p.m. according to police scanner traffic. The suspect was a male in a dark colored jacket, a ski mask and dark colored pants.
This is at least the third robbery in the past few weeks.
Fostoria Pizza Palace, 119 W. Center St., was robbed at gunpoint Friday around 8:47 p.m. According to Loreno, a 5-foot-8 Caucasian male suspect wearing a black ski mask and a black shirt presented a handgun and asked for money.
Similarly, on Oct. 26, South Side Drive Thru and Carry Out, 12520 W. Township Road 1122, was reportedly robbed. The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.
Loreno said there are no indications the two businesses were robbed by the same suspect.
For employees who are put in a situation such as these, he said the most important thing they and customers can do is listen to instructions to keep themselves safe.
“I’m sure it can be a very stressful situation but don’t put yourself in a position where you’re going to be subject to being harmed,” he said. “We don’t want to see a robbery enter into some other criminal act.”
The best way to help is to use the power of observation. Loreno said remembering little details such as listening to their voice, watching the way they walk, remembering what they look like, getting a description of the vehicle they are in and observations of that nature are important pieces of the investigation.
When there is no longer a threat, victims should immediately begin writing these details down whilst calling the police to ensure law enforcement have every piece of information possible as quickly as possible in their efforts to capture the suspects.
“It’s a horrible situation to go through and we don’t want anyone doing anything to get themselves hurt so if there’s not a clear method of escape or way to alert us, don’t put yourself in jeopardy,” Loreno said. “Observation is the best help you can give us.”