Cape Girardeau County sheriff's deputies are searching for suspects in an armed robbery Sunday at the Amerimart gas station and convenience store in Old Appleton, one of several in the region this month.
About 5:30 p.m., three men wearing ski masks entered the store at Route KK and U.S. 61 and demanded money, according to Sheriff John Jordan.
One of them displayed a handgun and made off with an undisclosed amount of money, beer and cigarettes, fleeing westbound in a dark-colored truck, authorities said.
Both sheriff's deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers searched the area, but no one was in custody as of Monday night.
Sikeston victim dies
Earlier this month, a robbery at a Sikeston home sent 45-year-old Linnie Andrews to the hospital. He died Dec. 25 of his injuries.
Four men, Maurice J. Robinson, 29, Julius T. Hudson, 22, Fabayan L. Larry, 22, and Jeremiah Watson, 30, all of Sikeston, face charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action in connection with the robbery. Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd may choose to upgrade the charges to murder in light of Andrews' death.
On. Dec. 17, Michael C. Schneider, 19, of Rosendale, Mo., and Nicole M. Nichols, 17, of Gower, Mo., were arrested near Perryville, Mo., after allegedly fleeing the scene of a robbery at a convenience store in Benton, Mo.
In 2006 and 2007 there were 37 robberies reported in Cape Girardeau County. That number has climbed to 59 for 2008, not counting the month of December because those numbers have not been added yet, according to the highway patrol.
It' easy to blame the floundering economy when there's an increase in crime, as people may become desperate for cash, but the spike may be a natural fluctuation, police say.
"I don't know that we've ever had anybody confess that they robbed because they lost their job," said Sgt. Barry Hovis, spokesman for the Cape Girardeau Police Department.
Some crimes have actually decreased this year, such as burglaries, Hovis said.
People who are willing to risk committing a robbery will usually do so because they need or want cash quickly but aren't willing to work for it, Hovis said.
In Scott County, there were 43 robberies reported in 2008 so far, excluding December, and 49 in 2007, a rise since the 34 reported in 2006.
"It's easy to say it's the economy, but its too easy of a cop out," said Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter.
"For the most part, I believe people are good, and the ones who have been doing it for years will keep on doing, but the others will think before they act."