CRIME ALERT: Portsmouth Police Warn of Dangerous Business Robberies

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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Portsmouth Police are searching for robbers involved in a string of late night business holdups.

The most recent was at Pizza Hut.

Police said it's the second hit at that restaurant in a month, and the robbers aren't hesitating to threaten employees with guns.

Police said with all the cases combined, there's more than $12,000 stolen.

Scott Frasure is recounting the moment a robber struck his business, Frank and Steins, last week.

"He stopped right around in here, and put the gun on her and handed her the bag," Frasure said.

Portsmouth Police are looking into five robberies in town.

"Most robberies, they don't brandish the weapons and point it towards people like these have been done," said Portsmouth Police Capt. Lynn Brewer.

"She stayed back there until he was gone, until she heard the back door close," Frasure said.

The robberies have left a chilling mark, including a recent ones at a McDonald's and Pizza Hut there.

"There's always the potential that someone's going to confront the robber or somebody's going to move too quick, and he's going to flinch and squeeze that trigger and somebody's going to get shot," Brewer said.

Portsmouth Police said the robbers in all of these cases are getting in through the back door, just like the one at Frank and Steins. In that case, the robber got away without a trace because there was no outside surveillance video.

"That's giving the advantage of cover for whoever's doing this," Brewer said.

Police said most of the cases involve an employee taking out the trash and being surprised on their way back inside.

"We're looking at the possibility that they're connected because of the same method of entry," Brewer said.

Officers said businesses should beware.

They said locking rear doors, having a signal or code word for employees to safely come back inside, making sure there's enough light outside and an outside surveillance system can help.

Business owners like Frasure said changes are on the way.

"We're going to lock the back door up earlier at night, so nobody can get in and out of there, and we're going to put a drop box in to where we drop the money, so we won't have so much money in the register," Frasure said.

He hopes that will be enough to prevent a robbery from happening again.

Police said they haven't made any arrests in these cases, but they are interested in a few people.

They also said the motive in all this could be anything from hard times to drugs.

Investigators said they aren't ruling out the possibility two people could be working together in these robberies.

Portsmouth Police said they've seen similar trends like this in the past, but the robbers weren't nearly as open with weapons.

If you have any information on these robberies, call Portsmouth Police.

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