HOLIDAY — A man who used a fuzzy white teddy bear in a ploy to rob a Walgreen's Sunday has hit three more Holiday businesses: a CVS on Tuesday and a hair salon and a diner Thursday night.
He brandishes a silver handgun during the robberies and he doesn't hide his face. He wants cash, authorities said, and he doesn't seem to be deterred by publicity about his crimes.
"He's threatened to shoot people," said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. "We don't know if that will be his next step."
A 6:14 a.m. Sunday, the man — described as being between 35 and 45 years old, medium build, short brown hair — walked into the Walgreen's at 4637 Sunray Drive and picked out a teddy bear. It was white and fuzzy and had a heart-shaped box of candy attached to it. The clerk later told authorities that the man smelled of alcohol and slurred his words, saying he was looking for a birthday present for his daughter.
When the cashier opened the register to make the sale, the man said "Give it to me now" and revealed what appeared to be a silver handgun. After getting an undisclosed amount of cash, he fled on foot.
At 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, the man brought a rifle under his jacket into a CVS at 2514 Darlington Road. He pretended he was at the counter to buy a package of paper napkins, then showed the clerk the rifle barrel.
"I'm going to shoot you if you don't hurry up and hand over the money," the man said, according to reports from the Sheriff's Office. After getting the cash, he fled on a bicycle.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, he tried to rob Hair Remedies Salon at 4808 Mile Stretch Drive. He told those inside the shop that he had a gun under his sweatshirt and acted as though he was cocking it.
"Give me all your money," he said, according to authorities.
A woman getting her hair done tried to give him her wallet with her check book, but he didn't want it. He just wanted cash. The owner told him there wasn't any cash there — just credit card slips and checks. He left without taking anything.
He tried his luck again two hours later, a little after 7 p.m., at the Americana 50s Diner at 1730 U.S. 19.
The man came inside and asked to be seated. He appeared to be drunk, according to a report. After being escorted to a corner booth and given a menu, the man got up and went to the front register. He got out his wallet and asked for some change. When the cashier opened the register, he closed his wallet — so she snapped the register shut.
"This is a robbery," the man said, according to a report.
He pulled down his shirt so the woman could see the top of a silver barrel. "You're kidding me, right?" the woman said and threw a stapler at him. He turned and ran out of the diner.
Some customers followed him outside and told authorities he fled on a red scooter with a plastic storage container on the back.
"He is blatant in his actions," Doll said of the man. "And we want to catch him."