String of armed holdups in Merced

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three Merced businesses have been robbed at gunpoint in the past three days and now police are trying to determine if any of the crimes are connected.

A detective returned to El Porvenir Market on 13th Street Tuesday after three men armed with guns stormed into the store Monday night. Workers say one of them jumped across the counter and forced a clerk to open the register -- while the others grabbed purses off a shelf and made a mess looking for money. The employee was struck during the melee -- but not seriously hurt.

The store is equipped with more than a dozen surveillance cameras that recorded the whole crime. The suspects are described as standing about six feet tall, but workers say they were wearing white masks and hoodies over their heads, along with white gloves. That's why police are not releasing the video at this point.

Capt. Tom Trindad with the Merced Police Department said, "If there's a face, absolutely we want to give it to you so you can view it, but if there's no face we don't want to give it because it gives us more investigative leads."

Two other recent armed robberies were also caught on camera. On Saturday morning, a man wearing gloves and a mask walked into a Valero gas station on Childs Avenue and demanded cash at gunpoint. And Sunday night, Me-n-Ed's Pizza on G Street was hit by a man wearing a hoodie with a bandana over his face.

Capt. Tom Trindad added, "At this time we don't have any evidence to show they are connected it could be, but right now we don't have enough information to say with any certainty absolutely."

Police say nine businesses have been robbed so far this year compared to six during the same time period last year, and five in 2013. Store owners are being reminded to report suspicious activity and keep their windows clear so officers can see inside while on patrol.

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