They happened between July 31 and Friday in Ocala and unincorporated Marion County. The perpetrators indicated they had a gun. There have been no injuries or arrests.
Local law enforcement officials believe a rash of recent robberies and attempted robberies at convenience store/gas stations in Ocala and unincorporated Marion County likely are connected.
Marion County Sheriff's Office detectives have released two pictures — one of the suspects, the other of a getaway vehicle — in hopes the public can help identify the robbers.
At issue are five crimes committed since July 31. In each case young men (three or four) wearing some type of hoodie and concealing their faces barged into the stores. The culprits indicated that they were armed and threatened to use a firearm if their demands of cash and cigarettes were not met. In some cases they stole goods and in some they left empty handed.
The group last struck shortly after 6 a.m. Friday at the Sunoco at 13003 N. U.S. 441. Two days before that, they hit the Circle K at 12475 NW Gainesville Road.
The other cases happened in rapid succession during the early morning hours of July 31. The Circle K/Mobil station at 3420 W. Silver Springs Blvd. was targeted, followed by the Shell station at 1741 S. Pine Ave. and the Marathon at 3821 SW State Road 200.
Police officials said they believe the group also has hit places in the Tampa Bay area in recent weeks.
Anyone with information about any of these incidents can call sheriff's Detective Billy Burleson at 368-3542 or the Ocala Police Department at 369-7000. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 368-STOP or visit www.ocalacrimestoppers.com.
Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118, email@example.com or @almillerosb