Armed Robberies on the Rise in VT

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 04/04 2014 07:03PM

Updated 04/05 2014 03:48PM

WILLISTON, Vt.- Waggy's Store and Deli in Burlington's new north end is one of the lucky ones.

“We haven't had any problems whatsoever,” said Melissa Short, co-owner of Waggy’s.

But that doesn't mean employees aren't prepared, just in case.

“I feel like I’ve been able to let my employees know this is what you need to do if this ever happens,” said Short.

And it is happening across the state, the number of armed robberies is going up. An armed robbery is when someone uses a deadly weapon, such as a gun or knife, to steal from a person or a business.

“We are having armed robberies two or three a week, when I started with the state police 30 plus years ago if we had 2 or 3 a month in the whole state that was a lot,” said Chief Alan Buck, with Richmond Police.

Chief Buck says late last month Richmond had its first armed robbery in three years. On March 25th a man walked into Cumberland Farms armed with a weapon asking for money.

“We know these are driven by drug use. This person didn't get a whole lot of money, probably just needed enough for a fix, probably heroin,” said Chief Buck.

Less than a week before Game Stop in Williston was also held up. The surveillance video shows a man with a gun demanding money.

“We feel there are certain similarities in each of these cases. To say that it’s the same person -we don't know for sure,” said . Detective Sergeant Justin Huizenga, with the Williston Police Department.

Armed robberies have risen over the last few years; from 42 in 2010 to 65 last year state-wide.

“I think it wasn't so uncommon to see this pop up in Burlington, South Burlington, or Rutland but I think it’s starting to spread throughout the state,” said Huizenga.

Last year Chittenden County saw 22 armed robberies, while Rutland County had 10. This year Chittenden has three, while Rutland already beat out last year’s number with 11 so far. And police say the majority of these criminals are repeat offenders.

“They get re-arrested, and the conditions are set, and then they are re-arrested. Its maybe time for the state to look at, maybe we need to have a place where they are treated under supervision,” said Chief Buck.

But in the mean- time businesses such as  Waggy's are ready for what could happen.

“We hope it doesn't happen to us, but I think we are prepared if it does,” said Short.

Police are still investigating the armed robberies in Williston and Richmond. If you can help, give Champlain Valley Crime Stoppers a call at 802-864-6666.

Police say tips from the public help solve a lot of these types of crimes.

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