Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Recent convenience store hold-ups have clerks on edge

ST. PETERSBURG — The robberies at local convenience stores over the last two weeks have not been extravagant heists.

One robber walks into the store and points a gun at a clerk. A second helps take cash from the register.

But the stickups have some St. Petersburg convenience store clerks on edge, even after police arrested one man in connection with one of the robberies on Thursday.

"When anybody sees a gun as a cashier, they get scared," said Peter Gilani, owner of the Chevron at 5405 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N, which was robbed Monday. "If something happens like that, try to protect yourself and give them what they want."

Police on Thursday arrested Anthony Wayne Beauford, 20, in connection with a robbery Wednesday at the Sunoco station at 6800 Fourth St. N. Detectives said forensic evidence left inside the store linked Beauford to the holdup.

Beauford was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Friday night in lieu of $150,000 bail. Police continue to investigate him in connection with three other robberies.

Police were still searching for the second suspect Friday.

Police said the robbers first held up a Citgo gas station in Kenwood on Feb. 5, then Gilani's Chevron and a KR Food Store on Monday and most recently the Sunoco on Wednesday.

"I believe these guys were watching us," said Ali Tajeddine, owner of the Sunoco, "and they knew exactly where the change box was."

At Gilani's Chevron, two men came in together with hooded sweatshirts covering their heads.

"They came in like they were regular customers," Gilani said.

They walked up to the cashier and pointed a small handgun at her, Gilani said. Police said they took money and her cellphone and were gone in a matter of minutes.

Gilani said the cashier is shaken up, but otherwise fine.

At Tajeddine's Sunoco, one man walked in first and meandered toward the Coke and Pepsi machines near the back of the store, he said.

A few seconds later, another man walked in, went straight to the cashier and held up a black handgun, according to police and Tajeddine.

As the men were grabbing money from the register, a delivery driver walked in, Tajeddine said. Police said they robbed the driver, too.

"He was pretty shaky yesterday," Tajeddine said.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Detective Wallace Pavelski at (727) 893-4823 or the tip line at (727) 802-5000.

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