Police said the 7-Eleven robbers would work in tandem. One had a gun, the other acted as a look out.
But they weren't always successful when they flashed a weapon and demanded money.
"Says, 'I'm going to count to five'... says that twice, then says, 'I'm going to count to 10' and leaves without anything," said Jeff Krutsinger, of the Santa Ana Police Department.
One of the suspects was caught caught because a clerk recognized him from an internal bulletin sent from the company, police said. The clerk was on the phone with police when the robber was trying to get his attention.
The suspect was arrested a short time later. The day after he made bail the robberies began again, police said.
Detectives said five stores in the city were held up 11 times.
Some of the robberies were early in the morning, others closer to midnight. There was no rhyme or reason or pattern to the hold ups, police said.
"Obviously they feel comfortable hitting these locations and that's why they go back and they haven't been caught," said Anthony Bertagna, a Santa Ana Police Department spokesman.
Siev Chao, who owns a donut shop across the parking lot from one of the 7-Eleven on South Main Street. She knows the fear and panic that goes with facing down the barrel of a gun. She was robbed in December.
"And then he pulled out a gun from his pocket and said, 'Give me the money,'" Chao said.
Detectives are searching for these two men. One wears either a red plaid shirt or a dark grey sweatshirt. He's described as 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds.
The other consistently wears a black-and-grey jacket. He's about 170 pounds and 5 foot 6.
"Our fear is that if something goes bad, goes sideways on us," Bertagna said. "I feel it's not safe."