Authorities see increase in robberies in Merced

August 23, 2012 12:22:15 AM PDT
Merced Police are searching for two men who robbed a convenience store at gunpoint overnight.

The case is the latest in a string of robberies in the city and part of a troublesome trend.

The latest statistics show 110 robbery reports in the first half of this year in Merced, compared to 69 during that same period last year. That's an increase of nearly 60%.

Merced Police say a number of factors may be tied to the increase in robberies, including budget cuts that have left the department short-staffed. That's why officers say help from the public is critical.

Saddam Ali is back at work at the A&M Market just one day after two masked men robbed him and his brother at gunpoint. He said, "They just told us to give them all the money, so I just opened the cash registers and gave them what I had."

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse lives nearby and often shops at the store, he happened to walk in while Action News was there.

"It's a reminder how dangerous these jobs are and very disheartening that this is happening in Downtown Merced," Morse said. "And I hope we have the opportunity to find these folks and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. I take this very personally."

This case is the latest in a recent string of robberies. Merced Police say three suspects beat a man unconscious near R Street and Loughborough on Friday and took his bicycle, wallet, and cell phone.

That same day a woman, 69, was getting cash from a drive through ATM when officers say a man grabbed her arm and ripped part of the money from her hand.

Police later arrested 28-year-old Richard Jacobs Junior. They say he admitted to the crime and claimed he needed the money to buy marijuana.

Lt. Tom Trinidad said, "Recently we do seem to have quite a few more street robberies."

Lieutenant Tom Trinidad says last month alone the department investigated 77 robbery cases compared to 38 in July of 2011. He believes the economy, reduced staffing levels, and early inmate releases may all play a role in the spike. That's why the department is stressing the importance of help from the public.

"You can't say anything else than that is the key," Lt. Tom Trinidad said. "I can't tell you how many successful cases have been solved with collaboration with the community, they have to be our eyes and our ears."

Lt. Trinidad says a citizen's tip actually led to the arrest of the suspect in that ATM robbery case.

Merced Police have multiple ways people can make anonymous reports, including by text message.


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