Appearances can be deceiving. A Winter Park Metro PCS Store and a local resident learned that the hard way last week.
Winter Park saw two armed robberies in the span of four days along U.S. Highway 17-92 last week – two crimes that may not have been connected, police say, but do share the characteristic of a robber posing as someone they aren’t.
The first robbery took place last Tuesday at the Lake Killarney Condominiums just north of the intersection of Orlando Avenue and Morse Boulevard. Officers responded to a call at around 11:14 p.m. from a victim who was inside their apartment when they heard a knock on the door from a black male in a Jimmy John’s sandwiches uniform. The man claimed to be asking for directions when an accomplice with dreadlocks armed with a handgun appeared at the door and “knocked out” the victim, according to a letter received by residents in the apartment complex.
The victim managed to get away from the two suspects and call 911 at a neighbor’s apartment, but the suspects escaped and are still at large.
Police are unsure how the suspect obtained the Jimmy John’s uniform.
The second robbery took place just three days later in a plaza just north of the apartments, where a man walked into a Metro PCS store at around 4:05 p.m. Friday brandishing a handgun. The thin black male who appeared to be in his 20s was wearing formal business attire – a white dress shirt, black pants and a red tie.
He left with an undisclosed amount of merchandise before leaving on foot. No one was hurt.
Winter Park Police Lieutenant Pam Marcum would not go into further detail about whether the suspect used his attire to enter the phone store discreetly, but noted that robbers typically conceal their identity instead of trying to blend in.
Burglars on the other hand will often try to appear as if they belong, she said. Winter Park saw a series of such burglaries back in April 2013, when suspects would prey upon affluent neighborhoods while wearing suits and driving luxury cars like BMWs and Cadillacs. Other reports spoke of suspects posing as nurses to enter empty homes without drawing attention.
“We had a group in the past that was coming up from Miami and I think they were dressing in scrubs,” said Marcum, adding that she hasn’t noticed an ongoing trend of this recently.
“A burglar is trying to blend in … if they’re going to try to commit a daytime residential burglary, they’re going to try to fit into the neighborhood.”
Marcum said that residents should continue to be aware of their surroundings, not open the door for unexpected visitors and call the police if they see anything suspicious.