WICOMICO CO., Md. - Halloween has come and gone as holiday ads start popping up on small screens everywhere.
'Tis the season of giving, but should it be called the season for taking?
When the holidays come around, so do the robbers, according to the Wicomico Bureau of Investigations. Sgt. David Owens says robberies spike in the last quarter of the year. This year alone, out of five total robberies, four were in October alone, all within days of each other.
"The sales start earlier. People are trying to get ahead earlier. I think it has an effect on the frequency starting earlier," said Owens.
Two robberies occurred on the morning of October 14th, when Ruben Collins, 42, reportedly pulled a gun on two convenience store owners, allegedly demanding cash in the process. Investigators say he took money from Vintage Beverages in Salisbury, Md., but left without taking money at the Quickstop in Parsonsburg, Md.
"He just pointed the fingers on the register on top and said, 'Open the register! Open the register! I wanted to kill you, get open the register. Give me the money,'" owner Hamid Saleman said to WMDT the morning of the robbery.
Wicomico County state's attorney Matt Maciarello says robbery is an "economically driven crime."
"We see people that are doing it, that are desperate and addicted and we see people that's just what they do," said Maciarello. "They're just out to rob."
But it's not just convenience stores on high alert, says Owens. From taking money out at the ATM to shopping for gifts, the crime can happen to anyone. Owen says for criminals in a pinch, they can get desperate.
"In order to provide for the holidays and still provide for their habit, again if it's both pieces, than they have to find another source of income," said Owens.
Owens says there are ways to protect yourself from this crime happening to you, especially during the holidays. If a person looks suspicious, don't turn an eye to the behavior and call police to give them a chance to make an arrest, says Owens.
"There's another ATM down the street, there's another store to buy another soda in," said Owens. "There's certainly another place in the parking lot to park that might be more well lit or closer to the store that might be more people present.
"Eliminate that opportunity the best you can."
But not even with this advice, Owens admits there are still people who will fall victim to the crime. If this does happen and someone demands your shopping bags or money, Owens says cooperate and don't raise the level of anxiety of the criminal.
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