BRANDON — Butchers, beware. A robber has hit up the baker and candlestick maker.
Last week, a man robbed the Yankee Candle Co. shop near Westfield Brandon mall. Now it appears the same man crossed the street to rob a Carvel shop in Regency Square Plaza, where, along with ice cream, they make cake.
"It's definitely unique," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon. "It's not your typical minimart or 7-Eleven robbery."
Deputies describe the robber as a white man in his 20s, 5 feet 10 to 6 feet 1, and 180 to 200 pounds. He wore a white T-shirt with a black design on the front, black knee-length shorts and black tennis shoes. He had sideburns and a thin beard.
Detectives have also linked him to a Tuesday robbery of a Christian store that's in the same plaza as the Yankee Candle Co. shop. They think he may be homeless, and each time flees by foot, McKinnon said.
Despite the targets — small stores not known for holding much cash — it's still a serious crime, McKinnon said. "In any type of crime of this sort, there's the potential for violence," he said. "Somebody could get hurt."
All three robberies happened during the day.
On June 11, the man used a threatening note to rob the candle shop at 221 Brandon Town Center Drive. He handed a clerk a note demanding money, then forced her into the bathroom and told her to stay there. On Monday, deputies say the same man entered the Carvel and asked about getting a job. He then passed a note to the employee, instructing her to place all of the store's money in a plastic bag. He ordered her to the back of the store and fled.
A movie theater surveillance cameras captured his image.
The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information to call Detective Shawn Napolitano at (813) 247-0583 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-843-8477.