String of armed robberies has Waukegan residents on edge

Over the last week, businesses ranging from big box stores to convenience stores have been targeted while the stores were open and customers were shopping.

- Over the last week, businesses ranging from big box stores to convenience stores have been targeted while the stores were open and customers were shopping.

“This is my very first time seeing a handgun, pointed at me. In that one second, I thought my life was over,” said Dollar Store manager Tadarell Stewart.

Tadarell Stewart is feeling like many people in Waukegan these days. On Thursday, he was behind the counter when an armed robber showed up and made off with a couple hundred dollars. Nobody was hurt.

But the next day, his store was robbed again.

“Who would expect to get robbed, back to back, you know?” Stewart said.

Those two robberies kicked off a string of eight over five days in Waukegan. On Friday, a BMO Harris Bank branch was hit for the second time in three months.

On Saturday, a bandit robbed a Target. The suspect went through a checkout line suggesting he had a gun.

On Sunday, three robberies happened on the streets of Waukegan. And on Monday, two men wearing masks robbed another convenience store.

“A huge spike, you know. Generally in Waukegan, I would say we might have, investigate, a couple a month. And to have this many, so close in proximity, is really something new for us,” said Commander Joe Florip of Waukegan Police.

Police say it helps that so many of the crimes were caught on security cameras, but they are also concerned that distributing so many photos of suspects over such a short period of time may be confusing to the public.

“We would always like people to take a look at these pictures, take a look at these areas, and see if anything rings a bell,” Florip said.

Police can't say yet whether the robberies are connected. Their advice to merchants? Comply with the robbers demands, and don't try to be heroes.

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