Real Names: Unrevealed
Aliases: None known; dubbed by police as the "Grocery Robbers"
Wanted For: Armed Robbery
Missing Since: July 1992
Details: Two unidentified men are wanted for robbing more than thirty-five grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in Oregon and Washington. As a result, they've been dubbed the "Grocery Robbers". They are suspected of stealing over $1.5 million in cash and coin from several stores between 1987 and 1992. No one has been seriously injured by the pair. However, the authorities fear that it's only a matter of time.
Their first robbery took place at a grocery store in Aberdeen, Washington on May 14, 1987. Soon, similar crimes began to occur at regular thirty-day intervals throughout Washington and Oregon. The local authorities joined together with the FBI and the Department of Justice to form a task force. After the task force was formulated, its members began to work together and collect all of their data on the case. They formulated a proactive approach to deal with the robbers and tried to predict where they would strike next.
On March 29, 1991, the authorities staked out several different grocery stores, including one in McMinnville, Oregon. The market closed around 10PM. Forty minutes later, everything appeared to be normal and the surveillance was called off. Incredibly, the store was hit just moments later. The robbers had apparently hidden inside the market and listened to the police reports on a scanner. When it was clear that the FBI had left, they made their move.
Four months later, the robbers struck again at a grocery store in Roseburg, Oregon. Shortly before closing, box boy Chris Truitt had an unexpected encounter with one of the robbers, who was hiding behind some boxes. When the robber came out with a gun, Chris immediately ran away. While fleeing, he decided to run down an aisle, hoping to lose the robber. However, that was unsuccessful; the robber fired at Chris, which caused him to stop in his tracks. He then forced Chris to lay down on the floor. After that, he walked out of the store, pointing the gun at another clerk who tried to stop him.
Another robbery occurred at Weiser's Market in Lake Grove, Oregon on the evening of May 19, 1992. The store closed at 10PM; as the last customers left, the store manager and employees locked the doors and began their late night cleanup. One of the clerks, Phil Bradford, was on his way to an office at the back of the store when he was confronted by two armed men wearing ski masks. At first, he thought a friend or fellow employee was playing a trick on him. However, when he saw their weapons, he realized that it was a robbery.
The robbers led Phil to the intercom and ordered him to page the manager. One of the men took him around the corner, while the other waited for the manager. Over the next five minutes, the three other employees were called to the back room, only to be taken captive and bound with plastic ties.
One of the robbers then donned an apron, walked the manager to the safe at the front of the store, and then ordered him to unlock it. The robber then emptied the safe while his partner stood guard over the manager and employees. As they laid on the floor, Phil feared that the robbers were going to shoot and kill all of them. Fortunately, that did not happen. Instead, the robbers stole one of the employee's vehicles and made a clean getaway. The entire episode took just thirty minutes.
Investigators believe that the robbers always follow the same carefully orchestrated plan. On the days leading up to the heist, the two men case the target, familiarizing themselves with the layout of the store and the names of the various employees. They also try to determine if any surveillance cameras or other security devices are present. On the evening of the robbery, they return to the store, posing as ordinary shoppers once again. They then find cover, usually in a back room hiding place, where they remain until closing time.
Investigators suspect that either one or both of the robbers have had experience in the grocery store industry. They also suspect that at least one of the robbers, presumably the leader, has knowledge of fairly sophisticated law enforcement strategies and techniques. It is believed that they use this knowledge to avoid apprehension.
The first suspect is between thirty-five and forty years of age (in 1994), 5'8", and weighs 180 pounds. He has crystal-clear blue eyes and brown or reddish-brown hair. He has a mustache which may be fake. He appears to be the leader of the two. He is described as deliberate and threatening.
The second suspect is approximately thirty-years-old (in 1994), 6'0", and weighs 160 pounds. He has dark hair, dark eyes, and may be olive-skinned. He has been described as the follower. He takes the orders from the first suspect. He also takes control of the employees. Interestingly, he has displayed some compassion for them by placing hamburger buns under their heads while they are on the floor, or by laying coats on them to keep them warm.
The robbers are considered armed and dangerous. Although they haven't robbed any groceries in the Pacific Northwest since July of 1992, police believe that they may strike again. It is also possible that they have moved their operation to a different part of the country.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the January 19, 1994 episode. Two other cases were briefly profiled at the end of the segment: Ramon Reyes and Louie Velarde and Oklahoma City Convenience Store Robbers.
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