Store robberies on the rise

December 1, 2008 3:50:24 PM PST
Police are still searching for a robber who shot and killed a man at a liquor store in Webster over the weekend. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Thanh Pham was shot after authorities believe he handed over the money without a fight. He leaves behind a five year old son and a three year old daughter. Law enforcement in surrounding counties now say they're seeing an increase in similar robberies and they're trying to get store owners prepared.

Investigators are looking to see if they can link a number of convenience and liquor store robberies in communities south and west of Houston, including the one in Webster.

On Monday, Alvin police released surveillance video of one of its currently unsolved convenience store robberies.

"The same guy came twice in a week," said convenience store owner Tariq Majeed.

Majeed has since installed extra security cameras, but admits he's still nervous.

"You really can't do nothing, just watch," he said.

Police believe the suspect is the same guy who hit Majeed's Shell station on Highway 6 twice in October, that the robber could be responsible for several other convenience store hits in Alvin and surrounding communities.

"They'll hit cities in one county, then skip a county or two, then hit another city," said Mike Merkel with the Alvin Police Department.

Police departments in Friendswood, League City, Santa Fe and Alvin all report increases in these types of crimes.

Just since October 1, there have been three convenience store robberies in Santa Fe, where they typically report maybe three for the entire year. In Alvin, there have been 7 of these robberies since October 1, more than a 50 percent increase over that same time last year.

"I would say that's very significant," said Merkel. "It's also a concern."

Police don't have any evidence linking the suspect or suspects involved in these robberies to the murder of that liquor store owner Saturday night in Webster. None of the other robberies they've had of late have been violent in any way.

Police, by the way, say the owner of that liquor store in Webster did not have his surveillance cameras rolling at the time when he was shot.

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