Customers were pushed back into stores, robbed of cash, phones at gunpoint
Port Washington and Grafton police are investigating two armed robberies that occurred in their communities this past week that officials say could be linked.
“We believe this may be connected to the armed robbery that occurred in Grafton,” Port Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Monday.
In both cases, the robber struck at a shop with few people inside, making off with cell phones and cash. He carried a black semiautomatic handgun, forcing customers who were leaving to re-enter the shop and then robbing them.
And the general description in both cases is also similar — a tall man weighing roughly 220 pounds, wearing a black ski mask and sweatpants.
The Port Washington robbery occurred about 6:32 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Subway restaurant in the North Port Shopping Center.
The man entered, brandishing the gun, as a couple, ages 16 and 17, was leaving, Hingiss said. He ordered the couple back into the restaurant, then told them and the two employees, both 17 years old, to lie face-down on the floor and empty their pockets.
In addition to taking cash from the store register, the man took cell phones, cash and a credit card from the customers and employees.
As the man left, his victims heard him on the phone telling someone to “turn the truck around,” Hingiss said.
When the victims heard him leave the restaurant, they used the store phone to call police, Hingiss said.
Police speculate that the man drove onto I-43 when he left, he added.
The man was described as a white man with blue eyes and blonde hair, aged 20 to 40, who is about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.
He was wearing a black ski mask, grey sweatpants with a grey, crew-neck sweater or shirt and a brown jacket.
Police obtained photos of the suspect from video surveillance cameras in the area, and have determined the man was likely left handed because he was carrying the gun in that hand.
He had white or light colored gloves and wore glasses that he removed before entering the restaurant, Hingiss said.
The video shows the man leaving in a pickup truck with a cap on it that was parked in the center lot.
In Grafton, police responded to a report of an armed robbery at Carlene’s Plaza Barber Shop, 1760 Wisconsin Ave., at about 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14.
According to police, a male suspect entered the business, displayed a black, semiautomatic handgun and demanded money from the shop owner and a customer.
The suspect approached the customer, who just received a haircut and was leaving, and pushed him back into the shop, police said.
After demanding money, the suspect struck the customer on the head with the gun but did not cause any significant injury, according to police.
The suspect then reportedly took an undetermined amount of money from the cash register, the customer’s wallet and the owner’s purse and left the shop.
The suspect was described as 6-foot-1-inch tall, 225 pounds and wearing a black ski mask, black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants, black gloves and athletic-style shoes.
Police said a K-9 unit from the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to the scene to search for clues. However, due to weather and parking-lot conditions, authorities were unable to determine an accurate track of the suspect, police said.
Grafton Police Chief Charles Wenten said Monday that the crime remains under investigation and his department is continuing to work with other agencies.
Hingiss concurred, but added that the city is lucky.
“We’re upset about the robbery, but we’re happy no one was hurt,” he said. “That could very easily have happened.
“I think we have been lucky this hasn’t happened more often, being (the restaurant is) right off the freeway and given the current issues here with drugs, particularly heroin.”
Although police have no proof that drugs were the reason for the robbery, Hingiss said, “that goes through our mind, that they’re using the money to feed a drug habit.”