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Panera worker robbed in lot

Two men stole the restaurant's earnings from the manager, say sheriff's deputies, who are looking for the owners of two cars seen in the parking lot before the incident.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published January 7, 2006


BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Two men robbed a restaurant manager in a parking lot late Thursday, stealing the night's revenues and forcing the manager at gunpoint into the trunk of her car, sheriff's officials said.

The men ran away with an undisclosed amount of money and remain at large, sheriff's spokesman Mac McMullen said.

The manager, who works at the Panera Bread Company at 2928 West Bay Drive, was not identified.

The manager left the restaurant at 11:38 p.m., McMullen said. In the parking lot, two men, one carrying a gun, approached her and took the money bag, her purse and car keys. They then had her crawl into the back of her Eagle Talon hatchback and closed it.

She was able to get out and banged on the restaurant's windows, shouting to an employee inside that she had been robbed, McMullen said.

One of the suspects was described as a black man, about 25 years old, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7, weighing 180 pounds with a heavy build. He was last seen wearing all dark clothing, a black mask and black gloves.

The other suspect was a black man, about 25 years old, 6 feet 4, weighing 170 pounds with a thin build. He also wore all dark clothing.

Investigators want to speak with the owners of two cars seen in the parking lot about 45 minutes before the robbery. The cars were a small four-door silver Mercedes and an older dark-colored four-door Chevrolet Impala. No one was seen in or around the cars, McMullen said.

McMullen said it was unclear whether either car had anything to do with the robbery.

TO HELP

Anyone with information concerning the robbery is asked to contact Detective Jim Cavagnaro of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Robbery Unit at (727) 582-6200 or Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477.