Rash of restaurant robberies spark fear

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 11:31 AM

HOUSTON -- Houston Police say there has been a recent “uptick” in fast food robberies.

Brazen attackers strike during the day, in front of surveillance cameras or when a restaurant is busy with customers.

Late Tuesday gunmen robbed a Subway in southeast Houston, killing a customer. On Tuesday morning, another gunman struck a donut shop in North Harris County, wounding the owner.

Monday more armed men gunman hit a Shipley Donuts in northwest Houston opening fire but not hitting anyone.

Three weeks ago, four men stormed a crowded Denny's on I-10 and Washington, killing a customer and wounding an employee.

“These are all the places that me and him go,” said 19-year-old Rashad Wilburn.

Buddy Nathaniel Sweats admitted that he feels “a little more afraid.”

In fact, that's partly why the two young men were at a north side Shipley Donuts together. It's just safer.

“Kids feel like they gotta prove something to people so they act harder,” Wilburn said.

Some people are changing their menu altogether.

“Like Denny’s for instance, I don't think we're ever going to go there again and we went there a lot,” said 31-year-old Marissa Marron.

Marron and pal Jay Castillo were at a Whataburger north of downtown.

“I was scared to sit here and eat my lunch,” Marron said.

“There was police officer inside so we felt safer,” Castillo said.

But others don't want to change.

“You really can't think about, let it affect your day to day life, then they won,” said 23-year-old Wayne White.

Ann Arreaga agreed.

“It’s everywhere, you have to just keep on going,” Arreaga said.

So is it more dangerous today than in years past?

That may be the perception, but Houston Mayor Annise Parker said numbers show otherwise.

“We have the lowest rate of violent crime that we've had in generations, but one crime is too many and it’s certainly too many if it happens to you,” Mayor Parker said.

Violent crime is down in Houston. According to the FBI UCR, in 2012 year there were 21,610 violent crimes, about 3,000 fewer cases than in 2007.

“I’d say more. It might even be the same,” Marron said. “It’s just that now we have Facebook and Twitter and all these things. All of that stuff is out there.”

As for that rise in fast food robberies, HPD does not have an actual number for what they call an “uptick.”

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