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Robbers hit Port Richey McDonald's

The early morning break-in is similar to a string of fast-food restaurant crimes around Tampa Bay.

By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002

PORT RICHEY -- Before sunrise on Saturday, men with guns smashed their way into a McDonald's, forced employees to open a safe and escaped with cash, Pasco County sheriff's officials said.

"It appears to be connected to a recent string of holdups at fast food outlets here in the Tampa Bay area," sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said.

"(The) robbery is apparently the first such venture into Pasco County."

In the past three weeks more than 20 bay area fast food restaurants have been targeted, and authorities believe at least a dozen were committed by three men. One suspect has been arrested; the other two are still being sought.

Aside from one Pinellas County heist, all of the robberies were committed in Hillsborough County, authorities said. In each, the restaurants were hit during dark, early morning hours.

About 5:30 a.m. Saturday, two men broke into the McDonald's at 11542 U.S. 19 as three employees were preparing to open the restaurant. The robbers were black men between 20 and 25 years old who wore gloves and masks or bandanas, officials said.

They carried handguns and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was injured.

"The descriptions and method of operation are identical to" the other robberies, Powers said.

"Our investigators are now working with detectives who are assigned to those cases," he said.

No vehicles were seen at Saturday's robbery, Powers said. The robbers were last seen leaving through the smashed glass door.

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