33-year-old Oscar Villarreal was taken into custody on Friday in Turlock. Investigators say he confessed to being involved in at least five "cash grab" robberies, including two in Merced.
The first happened at a Walgreens drug store two weeks ago. He reportedly snatched a handful of money from the cash register after approaching the cashier to make a purchase. Minutes later a similar robbery was reported at an Arco gas station blocks away.
More incidents happened in Atwater and Turlock over the next few days. Investigators believe Villarreal is responsible for all of the robberies.