FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fort Myers Police confirms suspects broke into a 777 Arcade in Fort Myers off Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard early Monday morning when the business was closed.
Officers say the suspects broke in through the front door and took change but did not take anything of great value.
Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers says they've seen an uptick in the number of crimes happening at casino arcades throughout the area in the last 4 to 5 months.
Trish Routte says it's a pattern that could continue to happen especially with so many of these types of businesses practically on every corner.
"That we are going to get some money-hungry bad guys that are going to go in with guns and you know any time that you have a crime where a suspect is bringing a gun and you don’t know what their intentions are, is their intention to use the gun the intention to threaten somebody with it so not knowing that the mentality behind the bad guys, when they’re coming into these businesses the worst case scenario, is if somebody uses a gun if they’re met with resistance out of business and they resort to violence we don’t wanna see that happening," says Routte.
An employee inside the business told us the owners are not sharing the surveillance video and not discussing this further at this time with us.
Fort Myers Police says there is an assigned detective to this case.
Routte says these times of crime are different from when a convenience store gets robbed, "Every arcade operates independently but most of these arcades you know they’re dealing with cash and there’s a lot of cash on hand and unless a particular business has a policy in place like with convenience stores where they’re only allowed to have X number of dollars."
She says this means less of a cash grab for would-be suspects and is likely the reason the casino arcades are now being targeted.
Mayor Kevin Anderson of Fort Myers to ask his perspective on these crimes he tells me, "Unfortunately you have people out there who are opportunists and if they see the opportunity to get ill-gotten gain, they’ll take advantage of it."
And when asked, "Do you think this is a problem having so many of these arcade casinos or no?"
They Mayor said, "It’s a double edge sword I guess in a sense that we want business they are legitimate business so they are producing taxes you know we look at a lot of different businesses and your question is that really the best business to be on the main road is that what we want the face of the city to look like well there are several businesses you can say no to but if they’re in an area where there is a zone for that business then they have the right to operate a business."
Routte adding that they hope to send a message soon to the individuals who are targeting these businesses and send a clear message to the bad guys that they are stepping up security at these businesses and it’s not going to be an easy take.
When reaching out to Lee County to see how these businesses operate we were told, Arcade businesses that operate in compliance with Chapter 546, F.S. are classified as Commercial Recreation Facilities, Group I (Lee County Land Development Code (LDC) Section 34-622(c)(38)).
As such, arcade businesses may be permitted in zoning districts permitting the Commercial Recreation Facilities, Group I use.
In order to commence operations, the owner must obtain a permit resulting in issuance of either a Certificate of Occupancy (if the unit/building requires renovation) or a Certificate of Use (if the unit/building does not require renovation) prior to obtaining a Local Business Tax Receipt from the Lee County Tax Collector.
Crime Stoppers says these businesses are working with law enforcement and that many are already taking extra precautions, even hiring extra security with the recent uptick of similar crimes.
Now if you have any information on this morning's robbery you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.