Recap of recent armed robberiesSince Dec. 9, seven businesses in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks have been robbed by a person holding a gun.
The spree started with a robbery of the Fairfield Inn, followed by incidents at Discontent, Simonson Station Store, Big Cigs Valley Dairy, Orton's Tesoro, Taco Bell and Budget Music. On Monday, authorities were investigating whether an armed robbery at a pharmacy in Mayville was connected to the recent crimes in GF-EGF.
Follow the Herald's coverage of each incident.
Dec. 9: Armed robber strikes GF hotel
Police said a man displaying a handgun and wearing a red ski mask robbed the front desk of the Fairfield Inn in Grand Forks shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday.“Officers responded; we set up a perimeter. Detectives were still on duty; they came out right away,” Sgt. Bill Wyatt said.
Dec. 11: Man in red ski mask robs Discontent
For the second time this week, a slim man standing about 6 feet tall and wearing a red ski mask has displayed a handgun inside a Grand Forks business, made off with cash and eluded arrest. Discontent — a skateboard, clothing and music shop — reported a robbery just before 1:30 p.m. Friday, and on Wednesday evening, the front desk of the Fairfield Inn was robbed. Police are fairly certain one man held up both places.
Dec. 12: Simonson Station Store robbed
The man who robbed Simonson was described as having a slim build, standing about 6 feet tall and wearing dark colored clothing, including a jacket, gloves, a hat and dark cloth covering the lower half of his face.
Dec. 16: Armed masked man robs Big Cigs store
Grand Forks police say a masked man with a gun robbed the Big Cigs Valley Dairy store on North Fifth Street shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday and got away with money. Several officers were quickly at the store, at 1207 N. Fifth St., next to a Dairy Queen — closed for the season — on the city’s near north side, interviewing employees.
Dec. 18: Bandit holds up EGF convenience store
A masked man robbed an East Grand Forks convenience store and fled with cash just before 1 p.m. Friday, sending lawmen scrambling to respond to the fifth holdup of an area business in 10 days. The robber, who wore a black or brown ski mask, “made a command for cash. He did display a weapon believed to be a black handgun with a silver stripe of some type going down the barrel,” said East Grand Forks police Chief Mike Hedlund.
Dec. 20: Bandit strikes Taco Bell, Budget Music
Two Grand Forks businesses a few blocks apart on South Washington Street were robbed Sunday afternoon within minutes of each other by an armed, masked man, police said. A man with a gun and wearing a ski mask held up a clerk at Taco Bell, 1301 S. Washington St., at 2:07 p.m. Sunday. A similar-sized man with a handgun and wearing a ski mask held up Budget Music, 716 S. Washington St., at 2:25 p.m. said Sgt. Derek Zimmel.
Dec. 21: Bandit hits Mayville drugstore
A masked gunman robbed more than 200 pain pills and $300 in cash from a drugstore here Monday, raising the question of whether the crime is linked to seven recent holdups in the Grand Forks area. Traill County Sheriff Mike Crocker said his office received a report at 10:22 a.m. of a robbery at Aasen Drug on the corner of Center Avenue and Main Street.
Tips for store owners to help keep businesses safe
The Grand Forks Police Department offers the following suggestions on how stores might deter thieves and avoid taking a big hit during a stick-up:
Officials pinpoint robbery patterns
A calm, masked man enters a business, displays a handgun and leaves with cash. That’s been the tale in most of the recent robberies at Grand Forks area businesses, but investigators say the person who tried to rob a Taco Bell on Sunday broke the mold.