An armed robber who struck a Taco Bell and a Chevron convenience store in Murrieta this month may also be connected to two other incidents in the area, police said Thursday.
Investigators are asking the public for any information that may help them catch the man who walked into a Taco Bell on Madison Avenue, went around the counter into the kitchen area and forced the employee to empty the drive-thru cash register after he displayed a handgun in his waistband on Jan. 13.
A person police say appears to be the same man walked into a Chevron on Murrieta Hot Springs Jan. 20 while two employees were having dinner behind the counter around 11:30 p.m.
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He pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at them while demanding money and three packs of cigarettes.
The suspect may also be the person who robbed a Sherwin-Williams paint store on Newport Road in Menifee around 6:15 p.m. Jan. 9 and then a Valero gas station on Highway 74 in Hemet just three hours later.
In that instance we was seen leaving in a car thought to be a Honda Odyssey.
In the Taco Bell robbery, the suspect was described as about 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing a black ski mask, a dark hooded sweatshirt and Levi’s jeans. He is believed to have shoulder-length blond hair.
The robberies have employees of some small businesses on edge.
"Murrieta is supposed to be a safe city, so it's very abnormal to see this," said Alexis Smith, who works at a dental office near the paint store.
"It's a huge concern. We are open long hours and we close at night so it's a huge concern because a lot of ladies here come out to their car at night," she said.
She said the employees at her business will likely take extra precautions until the robber is caught.
"We will probably go out in doubles instead of singles and stay focused on our awareness around our surroundings," Smith said.
The seeming randomness of the robberies has others worried that anyone could be targeted.
"We have a small business, a lot of female employees here, so we tell them to stay safe and just keep an extra eye out," said Laurie Cary of PoleCrazy Dance Fitness.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Therien at 951-461-6346.