FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Fresno police are searching for a suspect who's preying on Fresno businesses where the workers are vulnerable victims. Detectives believe the same man is behind four crimes in recent weeks targeting Fresno massage parlors.
Police said the armed man is using a knife when he goes into these businesses at night. He is primarily after cash but will take anything valuable he can get.
Around midnight, Wenxi Spa Massage was the first of several businesses hit by a daring man. The victims, who speak limited English, told Action News the robber kicked in the waiting room door, and, when they told them they didn't have cash, he took a purse and Apple iPad.
The concerning trend has police working with the scared victims to try and stop the suspect before he strikes again. "We believe the same individual is, perhaps, responsible for all four of those and we're furthering that investigation. We have some good leads but not ready to make an arrest," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.
Earlier this month detectives said around nine at night, the women working at the Golden Hands Massage Center in the Tower District was also robbed at knifepoint. The suspect only got away with an iPhone and luggage bag with clothes. But he was recorded on surveillance video, giving police their first good clue.
Officers said the late hours of operation, largely cash business, and a good chance the victims may not fight back may be luring the bold thief. "It definitely makes it more attractive, because the person committing those robberies would believe they're not going to get a big amount of force when they try these. So it's a vulnerable population and a vulnerable business to rob and we're aware of that. That's why we're jumping on it and we're looking at it," said Sgt. Curt Chastain, Fresno Police Department.
During the most recent holdup, the suspect jumped through the window at Star Massage near First Street and Dakota. There he got several hundred dollars an iPhone and a tablet.
Several factors are making the investigation a challenge-- the language barrier and also fear some of the victims have of law enforcement.
Fresno police believe the suspect is acting alone.
Several victims said they have stepped up security by adding cameras and other safety measures.