Armed robberies on the rise in Augusta

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January 8, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Four armed robberies in just 24 hours.

What investigators say worries them is that different people may have hit each store.

They expected the new year to bring less crime. So far, it's brought anything but.

Yesterday, stores on Barton Chapel, Walton Way, and Peach Orchard were hit. Earlier today, an armed man robbed a woman at Dent's Undertaking and took off between nearby houses.

Deputies say it's usually one group behind a string of robberies...but in this case, they all seem to be separate jobs, with separate groups still on the loose.

At Sunday around noon, robbers entered the One Stop convenience store on Walton Way and approached Valerie Timmons with a gun.

"I said, 'Oh my gosh, they not playing' I did what they said," Valerie told News 12.

After they got cash and the store's cordless phone, they took off.

About six hours later and seven miles down the road across town, another robber struck at the Family Dollar on Walton Way. A robber walked up to the counter with his hand in his pocket acting like he had a gun, then made off with money.

Then another ten miles down the road, about three hours later, the third robbery happened at the Peach Orchard Kangaroo.

Around 10 o'clock Sunday night, surveillance shows two men walking up with a gun and taking off with money.

Lt. Scott Peebles with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says their hope in catching the criminals is their slipups. For example, the armed robber from One Stop left his glove behind.

"It gives us more pieces to the puzzle that we didn't have," Lt. Peebles said. "We can get more evidence as we go along."

That's Valerie's hope.

"That was my first time and it was scary," she said.

After all the recent robberies--one funeral home, one Family Dollar, and two convenience stores--she worries her first time won't be her last.

Valerie say tells us she plans to find another job.

Investigators don't think any of these are related, which is actually worse. If they were all tied, it's just one group of armed robbers on the loose. Here, it's several.

There aren't many clues so far beyond the glove. Investigators are on the lookout for all the suspects, but finding them could take time. If you have any information, you're asked to call the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's website shows January 2006 had near the highest number of armed robberies in that year, 35.

That's up from 21 in 2005, 17 in 2004, and 12 in 2003.

We also saw an increase in December because of the holidays.

Deputies usually expect it to die down, but it hasn't happened so far this year.