LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. -- Authorities are asking for the public’s help identifying and tracking down an unknown man who robbed a Lehigh Acres store at gunpoint Thursday night.
According to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, shortly after 9 p.m. on February 9th, an unknown black suspect, wearing a purple mask and gloves, entered the Advanced Discount Auto Parts store, located on Sunshine Boulevard N. at Lee Boulevard.
The man pulled out a firearm and ordered all employees to the front counter. He then demanded all the money from the safe, as well as everyone’s cell phone. In fear for their lives, the employees complied.
The suspect left the store on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash placed into bags from the store. He is believed to have then entered a vehicle waiting for him in the parking lot. Trish Routte with SWFL Crime Stoppers told Fox 4, the crime did not appear random. "He went in there armed, he went in there knowledgeable, he knew the details of the store, he knew when to hit the store," she said. "He didn't get caught last night, so who's to say he's not going to do it again, so there is a real need to find out who he is and to bring him into custody as quickly as possible."
The robbery had nearby businesses concerned about the possibility for a similar crime at their place of employment. "We've just got to take more precaution, we have make sure everything's safe, locked up as we leave at night," said an employee at FOS furniture across the street.
At a nearby barber shop, employees and Lehigh residents tell Fox 4 this type of crime isn't a surprise in Lehigh and they prefer to be prepared. "They could do that while you're getting a haircut, or buying groceries, or getting a part for your car like they did over there," said one resident. "It's not going to stop, you know violence. It doesn't slow down, it just keeps growing every day, so you just have to make sure you're prepared for that kind of stuff."
Anyone with information on the identity and whereabouts of the armed suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Tips may also be provided online at www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com or by submitting a tip on the P3Tips app.