Courtesy: Greensboro Police Dept.
Courtesy: Greensboro Police Dept.
Greensboro, NC -- Police in three Triad cities are investigating robberies and attempted robberies at seven different Harris Teeter stores, including four since Sunday.
The crimes date back to December 2011 and began at the Harris Teeter on Skeet Club Road in High Point. A police report states that on Dec. 24, 2011, two men robbed the store director and store accountant around 6:45 a.m. The report says the suspects got away with about $4,500.
Greensboro police report a similar robbery at the Harris Teeter in Friendly Center on Jan. 31. Another happened in High Point on March 17 at the Harris Teeter on Eastchester Drive.
A rash of the crimes began Sunday morning, when Winston-Salem police reported an armed robbery at the Harris Teeter on Grant Hill Lane around 4:05 a.m. Less than 90 minutes later, Greensboro police report an attempted robbery happened at the Harris Teeter store on New Garden Road, followed shortly by another attempted robbery at the store Battleground Avenue.
The most recent robbery was reported Tuesday morning, around 4:10, at the Harris Teeter on Pisgah Church Road in Greensboro. A release from GPD says two suspects entered the store with handguns and threatened the staff. They then pried open some of the registers.
Police in all three cities are working together -- and with Harris Teeter -- and believe the crimes are related.
"At this point, there is no indication of why Harris Teeter is chosen, other than Harris Teeter is probably our one grocer in the area that is open 24 hours a day," Greensboro police Capt. Mike Richey said. "And it is an extremely popular grocery store, so they're easy to find."
News 2 found out that some Harris Teeter employees are feeling uneasy, especially with the latest string of armed robberies. Employees did not want to talk to News 2, but a close relative of a Harris Teeter employee did voice her concerns. She didn't want her name to be used but she told us she is worried for late night shoppers and third-shift employees.
"When you have a family member that works third shift, you automatically know, there's a little bit of higher risk involved, but in the last 4 or 5 months, the amount of stress that he's felt, our family's felt because this is a violent crime, and it's not just been in one or two places," said the relative of a Greensboro Harris Teeter employee.
"What makes it more ( of a priority) is the fact that it is a serial crime. There are multiple occurrences of this crime and that always makes us pay more attention," added Greensboro Police Captain Richey.
The very idea of a serial crime is not only keeping police on high alert but keeping the family members of Harris Teeter employees on edge too.
"There's a number of things they've done to show their commitment to the community but now I think they need to go a step further when there's a rash of bank robberies, the next thing you see is a officer outside the door," added the relative of an employee and Harris Teeter shopper herself.
News 2 was able to track down an employee memo that was sent out to Harris Teeter back in March after the first round of robberies. In the e-mail, the Harris Teeter management urges store managers to go over safety regulations and when to empty registers. The memo also notes that employees should give the robbers whatever they ask for, something Greensboro Police urge employees and shoppers to do if they're confronted with one of the masked robbers.
The Matthews, NC-based grocery store chain sent WFMY News 2 a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
In it, the company said its "Loss Prevention team takes security matters seriously and works on behalf of both our associates and our customers every day to establish a safe environment in which to shop and work." The statement also says Harris Teeter trains its workers to "minimize the impact of [a] threatening situation."
The chain says it won't be changing the operating hours at its 24-hour stores, but it is contributing $2,500 to the CrimeStoppers reward in hopes of spurring an arrest.
Officers are asking anyone with any information that might help to call their local police.
WFMY News 2