January 19, 2010
It’s a scene that’s played out once too often at Van Pandya’s Subway restaurant on North Academy Boulevard:
A robber comes into the store and runs off with money. Police show up to investigate but, more often than not, the robber is never caught.
After being robbed more than a half-dozen times in the past five years, Pandya is tired of it and is taking matters into her own hands. She plans on staking out her Subway at 3434 N. Academy Blvd. and tailing any robbers in her car.
“I’m more angry than scared or upset,” she said Tuesday. “Yeah, they come for the money, but after a while it’s a person’s dignity they’re robbing.”
Subway restaurants have been among the favorite targets in a robbery spree that has had police running all over the city since the first of the year. According to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s online blotter, there have been six Subways robbed this month. The most recent was Monday evening when a gunman robbed the Subway at 2870 N. Powers Blvd.
Map: Robberies at Subway restaurants so far in 2010
View Subway robberies in a larger map
Through Friday evening, police said there had been 42 robberies in the city in January — more than the total for the entire month in 2009 and 2008. In the four days since, there's been 11 more robberies entered on the blotter.
Sgt. Steve Noblitt, a police spokesman, said investigators don’t know if the Subway robberies are being committed by the same person or band.
“We’ve noticed the amount of robberies and we’re concerned and we’re looking into it,” he said. “If there are any links to be found, we’ll find them.”
Pandya’s store was robbed last October and again on Jan. 6. She’s not sure why robbers are drawn to Subways, but guesses it might be the locations on corners near alleys or because they’re open at night. She minimizes the risks by making sure there’s not a lot of cash in the register at night and having a security system. Still, it doesn’t seem to deter the robbers, she said.
“It happens in such a few seconds. They’re in and they’re out,” she said. “We have a security system, a panic button, we have everything but it doesn’t do any good.”
She knows it’s risky to tail a robber, but it worked once before. Two years ago, she followed a woman who’d robbed her store and left on foot. Following in her car, she demanded the robber stop, and police arrived soon after and arrested the woman.
Noblitt doesn’t encourage any business owner to follow a robber or try to arrest them on their own.
“We don’t want a private citizen tailing suspects,” he said. “Leave that to the guys who get paid to take those risks.”
If people see a robbery, they should report it to police immediately, he said, and try to get detailed descriptions of the robbers and their vehicles.
“If you are going to do a robbery in Colorado Springs, we’re going to throw everything we’ve got at it,” he said.
Pandya said police are doing the best they can with the resources they have. But she’s determined not to be a victim again.
“I just hope they’ll come to my store again,” she said of the robbers. “They’ll get caught.”
Call the writer at 636-0274.