Workers in an Amtex Insurance business are shaken up after what just happened a week ago. Now they're no longer accepting cash as payment.
"He jumps the counter, brandishes a knife, makes a threat, demands money and curses," said Sgt. Gary Urie with the Houston Police Department.
Police say the man is responsible for robbing at least 13 check cashing and insurance businesses in the north Houston area.
"They'll have ready cash on hand and he enters pretending to be a customer," explained Sgt. Urie.
Sgt. Urie says the heists date back to 2010. So far this year, three store fronts have been hit.
The most recent is Amtex Insurance off the East Freeway, near Uvalde. The other robberies happened along freeways in the north and northwestern parts of the city. Out of all the victims who have been robbed, all but one are female.
"The victims typically are young girls acting as clerks," Sgt. Urie said. "They're trained to be compliant and then they are compliant, he's intimidating."
The most recent victim says the suspect seemed to be a normal customer.
"He was like give it up, give it up, like coming towards us," recalled robbery victim Janely Herrera. "We felt threatened, so we just gave it to him."
Police say they have no idea if the suspect has an accomplice because they have no witnesses once he leaves.
The suspect is described only as a black male, 35 to 45 years of age, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a slender build and weighing approximately 160 pounds. Typically, he wears a baseball cap, a buttoned-up long sleeve shirt, white tennis shoes and slacks or Dickies pants.
In most of the robberies, police say he is armed with a kitchen-style knife. The suspect choses random times of day to commit the robberies.
The suspect is linked to robberies at the below addresses:
- 13512 East Freeway (East Interstate Highway 10) on April 6, 2012.
- 4400 North Freeway (North Interstate Highway 45) on February 17, 2012.
- 210 W. Greens Road on January 31, 2012 and October 29, 2011.
- 7844 W. Tidwell on August 12, 2011.
- 11204 Airline on August 6, 2011.
- 7715 Veterans Memorial Drive on July 22, 2011.
- 4714 North Freeway on February 21, 2011.
- 1409 West Mount Houston on December 17, 2010.
The suspect has also been linked to two robberies in Harris County and a robbery in Conroe. In most cases, the suspect enters the business and inquires about a loan or insurance quote. Immediately after the inquiry, the suspect runs around or jumps the counter and displays a weapon or gestures that he has a weapon in his pocket and demands money.
After taking the money, the suspect forces the victims into the back of the business and then flees the scene. The victims have not been able to describe the direction the suspect flees or what vehicle he might be driving. It is believed the suspect is alone, but there might be additional suspects involved.
Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to call the HPD Robbery Division at 713-308-0700 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.