These days convenience stores are flanked by security cameras installed to capture multiple angles, and hopefully keep employees safe. But that didn't slow down one gunman in Chittenden County. Police are now linking the man to three armed robberies.
The alleged spree started at a South Burlington convenience store just before 9 p.m. Sunday. Police say the suspect entered Simon's and pointed a gun at the clerk.
"The store clerk handed over cash -- an undetermined amount -- and the robber fled out the door and ran south on Shelburne Road," said South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple.
Police believe the gunman may have had a getaway car stashed nearby. Three hours later they say he hit the Champlain Farms at the intersection of Route 7 and 2A in Colchester -- his violence escalating. The clerk there described the gun as a long barreled revolver. She told police he pointed it at her and pulled the trigger multiple times.
"She had essentially a moment of panic. she didn't react quickly enough to his demands and that's what brought on the response," said Colchester Police Lt. Doug Allen.
Luckily the gun didn't fire, and police aren't sure why. They say the trigger mechanism could have failed or the gun may not be real. Police say the suspect left empty handed but struck again fifteen minutes later. Surveillance video from the Maplefields near Exit 16 in Colchester shows the suspect threatening a third clerk before making off with $100. He's described as a white man, about 5-foot-9, wearing a dark sweatshirt, jeans and a white bandana over his face.
Police say the best way to help is to remain calm and be a good witness, making mental notes about any distinguishing features the robber or the weapon they may have. South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple said robberies and thefts are on the rise statewide. They're almost always fueled by drug addiction, which he said makes them unpredictable crimes.
So is Vermont headed in a direction where clerks are hidden behind plexi-glass for their own protection? Police say it's a tough call. "How much of a fortress mentality do you want to be to be safe? It's a difficult question," Lt. Allen said.
Police are not sure if the man is acting alone or with an accomplice. If you have any information call Colchester or South Burlington Police.
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