H-SANTA MARIA

Feb 11, 2014 7:44 PM by Caroline Lowe

Police: Number of armed robberies linked to same gunman could be growing

Santa Maria police said Tuesday the number of armed business robberies linked to the same gunman may be growing and include a case outside the city. On Monday, police said a serial robber had hit at least three businesses in Santa Maria in the past six weeks. The most recent robbery was Saturday night. They now say he also fits the description of a robber armed with a gun linked to an earlier crime that happened south of Santa Maria. They won't confirm if it includes one at the Far Western Liquor Store on Orcutt Road which happened on December 7th. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office confirmed Tuesday that the robber in that case has not been caught. Spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said, " We have shared information regarding our case with the SMPD. This is an active investigation and we are unable to confirm if there is a connection." William Askar owns several stores that have been robbed recently. On Tuesday, he told KSBY he has taken several steps to keep his employees safe. "I have a surveillance camera and I added more cameras in each business. It doesn't matter which direction they come in,it's going to get him and the car. Even if he's sitting inside the car, they are going to get him" said Askar. Santa Maria police think at least two people are involved in the robbery spree. Surveillance video from the holdup Saturday night at Santa Maria Liquor Store on East Main Street shows the robber getting into the passenger side of a white Chevrolet Tahoe. The vehicle was found about ten minutes later by a California Highway Patrol officer off Highway 101 near Stowell Street. It was engulfed in flames. The SMPD now has two detectives assigned full-time to the armed business robbery investigation.

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