The hold-up of yet another business in Peoria on Monday night has some working in retail wondering if the crime spree will soon come to an end.
The armed robbery to Big Lots, 3013 N. Sterling Ave., about 8:20 p.m. by a man with a knife is the latest in a wave of heists plaguing the city.
No injuries were reported, though the robber poked an employee in the back with the knife until the cash register was emptied.
From bakeries and bars to video and convenience stores, it seems no business is safe. In January, there were 22 armed robberies, two to four a day in some instances.
“I don’t know what is going on. It seems like every day there’s another one. It’s crazy,” said a manager at of one of the two Butternut Bread thrift stores in Peoria. “You work in retail and you always have a chance of getting robbed. Police need to do something.”
Police have beefed up patrols but with so many robberies and very few leads, it’s difficult to know if one or more people or groups are responsible.
“It could be the same two people every time,” Peoria police spokesman Doug Burgess said. “But until we can pin it down, we’re not going to know for sure.”
Police thought they had put a stop to the robberies with the arrests of two teens last week after a botched purse snatching outside the Circle K gas station on Knoxville Avenue. One of the alleged robbers, Christopher Young, 18, of Peoria was arrested a second time over the weekend for the Jan. 10 armed robbery of two patrons of the Elbo Room, 631 W. Main St.
But even with those arrests, the robberies continue to occur.
“They’re hitting whoever,” said the Butternut manager, not wanting to give her name. “It’s a nervous situation.”
Because their stores have been held up three times since Dec. 29, bakery management has allowed the thrift stores to close an hour earlier, at 5 p.m. The businesses also are installing an upgraded security system.
“Hopefully that will help,” said the manager. “We don’t know what else to do to stay safe.”
Peoria is not alone in struggling to solve the cases.
Three of the robberies have occurred just outside city limits in Peoria County. In less than a week, Family Video, 3218 W. Harman Highway, was robbed twice, along with the U.S. Cellular store across the street.
“We are in communication with Peoria, comparing notes and working together to resolve this string of robberies,” said Peoria County Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Briggs. “We know from descriptions it’s not always the same people.”
Police have described the robbers as black men in their mid-teens to mid-20s. They range in height from 5 feet, 4 inches tall to 6 feet, 1 inch tall with medium builds. They wear dark clothing, gloves and sometimes black ski masks.
Some of the robberies may be linked because of the mannerisms of the suspects, but police have declined to elaborate on the suspects’ behavior because of the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about the robbers or armed robberies can call CrimeStoppers anonymously at 673-9000 or the Peoria Police Department at 673-4521.
It just goes to show that even the “prominent” blacks are nothing but Niggers at heart. Put her away for good. We don’t need animals on the streets.
A former Richwoods High School basketball star admitted this week that she violated her probation, a move that could put her in prison for several years.
Biannca Ward, 20, admitted Wednesday that she tested positive for marijuana six times from January to September and did not participate in a mandated drug treatment program. She remains in custody at the Peoria County Jail and faces four years and possibly up to 15 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 19.
Ward could be resentenced to probation as well.
In June 2006, Ward pleaded guilty to two counts of residential burglary and one count of attempted residential burglary. She also pleaded to aggravated robbery for holding up a 64-year-old woman outside Michael’s Arts and Crafts, 5212 N. Big Hollow Road.
She was sentenced to six years in prison for residential burglary but was allowed to participate in the state’s “boot camp” program for six months. Ward completed the program and didn’t have to finish the rest of her sentence. Once she was released, she was put on probation for the aggravated robbery case and had that probation transferred to Will County, where the failed drug tests occurred.
In 2005, Ward, then a sophomore, helped the Richwoods girls basketball team win a state-record 38 games on the way to an undefeated season and Class AA state championship, and was the Journal Star’s Class AA player of the year.