Two shot, one dead at check cash store

April 15, 2008 5:40:02 PM PDT
A violent robbery ended with one man dead and another shot on the East Side. Police say it appears they were targets because they had just cashed a check.We did some digging and found that robberies are up significantly across the city at check cashing locations.

The yellow crime scene tape is now gone from PLS Check Cashers on Maxey near Fleming, but the fear still exists for customers.

"It could have been anybody," said customer Valerie Balerio.

The shooting happened at around 9pm Monday. Police say two men had just cashed pay roll checks when they were confronted behind the store. The gunmen, who attempted to rob them, shot one of the men in the chest and killed him. The other victim was shot in the back and survived. Two random targets for what appears to be a not so random crime.

"The criminals know that people go into these businesses and they are coming in and out with money," said Sgt John Chomiak with the Houston Police Department.

Using our exclusive Crime Tracker, we uncovered for the first two months of the year, robberies occurring at nine check cashing businesses across the city. That's a 200% increase compared to the same time last year. Records show thieves have driven into buildings trying to get to the money while one thief used a sledge hammer to burglarize a store.

"We need to take the approach that we're aware of all of our surroundings, all of the time," Sgt. Chomiak said.

Unlike stand alone banks which are regulated, these type of stores have no set guidelines on how much security they need to provide. A spokesperson for PLS says his company does have security measures including cameras as well as a security guard on the premises.

He adds this is the first murder that has ever occurred on one of its properties.

Police are looking for the shooting suspect. He is described as a Hispanic man. He was last seen driving a four door blue car. If you have any information on this case, call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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