Two masked men with pistols forced employees at Captain D's in Chesterfield County, off Hull Street Road, into the freezer before taking their cell phones.
While the city sees record decreases in violent crime, Chesterfield is experiencing a decided uptick — particularly in robberies.
Robberies through Oct. 28 are up 8 percent for the year, according to police officials, which isn't necessarily alarming in the sprawling suburban county. But when robberies during the past three years are factored in, the spike is attention-getting.
Since 2005, the last year the county recorded fewer than 200 robberies, stickups have increased 68 percent, with two months to go.
Chesterfield Police Captain Bob Skowron says there are no discernible trends, other than the victims are increasingly Hispanic. Indeed, through October, there have been 93 Hispanic robbery victims in 2008, compared with 37 for all of 2005. In 2007, there were 66 Hispanic robbery victims.
As a result, Chesterfield has increased its outreach in the Latino community and hired more Spanish-speaking officers
“We still have a ways to go with the Latino community,” Skowron says. Because many Hispanic immigrants don't use banks and often carry cash, they've become easy targets, he says.
The robbery trend in Chesterfield is so far outpacing its two biggest neighbors, Henrico County and Richmond. Henrico reports 305 robberies through Nov. 7, compared with 388 robberies in 2007, its worst year to date. Richmond is faring even better, with total robberies through Nov. 9 at 670, compared to 840 a year ago, a decrease of 20 percent.
Chesterfield's robberies are trickling into areas that aren't known for violent crime. During lunchtime Sunday, Sept. 21, two teenagers robbed the Carmike 10 movie theater near Chesterfield Towne Center, on Alverser Drive. One of the teens entered the theater office and put a gun to an employee's head.
At Captain D's, two men wearing white gloves locked employees in a freezer shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. Police haven't released more details. But an assistant manager says the robbers took their cell phones.
As a result, Captain D's managers are tightening up procedures at the restaurant. In 14 years working for the company, the store's assistant manager, who declines to be identified, says she can't remember the Hull Street store ever getting robbed.
For the most part, she says the employees are handling the incident well. “It's constantly on your mind, though,” she says. “I come from a rough neighborhood, so I'm used to it.”