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Authorities are investigating whether a string of eight armed robberies at Trader Joe’s stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties are related, law enforcement authorities said on Tuesday.
Since February, stores in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Irvine and Culver City have all been targeted, LAPD spokeswoman Officer Rosario Herrera said.
The string of stick-ups began in Long Beach on Feb. 15, authorities said.
That’s when a man with a handgun walked into the Trader Joe’s at Bellflower Boulevard and Stearns Street in Long Beach around 8:30 p.m. and demanded cash from an employee, said Nancy Pratt, a Long Beach police spokeswoman. On March 2, the store was robbed again at the same time of night and in much the same way.
“Surveillance video was collected, however that footage is not being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation,” she said.
Since mid-February, a man has also held up four Los Angeles stores in Van Nuys, Topanga, Wilshire and the West Valley, Herrera said. The most recent was Saturday at the West Valley store.
Herrera said LAPD detectives are still looking into whether the robberies are connected, but she said they all followed the same basic method and included a common description of a lone robber.
The Irvine robbery was on March 19 at the University Center on Campus Drive. Like the Long Beach robberies, it happened around 8:30 p.m., Irvine police spokeswoman Kim Mohr said.
“It seems to be all in line with that pattern,” she said.
A Trader Joe’s spokeswoman declined to comment beyond a statement posted to the company’s website on Friday, April 20.
“When necessary, we take appropriate action, including having security cameras and security guards in our stores, to help ensure the safety of our customers and Crew Members,”it said. “Maintaining a welcoming and safe environment within our stores is of paramount importance to us.”