St. Louis woman's assault latest in string of violent robberies

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on November 9, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 11:14 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A 65-year-old woman was robbed at gunpoint and shot at in front of her home in broad daylight.
 
It is the latest case where an innocent victim has been shot or shot at even after they have complied with a robber's demands.  News 4 has been tracking this crime for six weeks.
 
Police say robberies are often a crime of opportunity, which can make it hard to police.  Officers say these criminals literally just drive around, waiting to see someone that looks like an easy target.  That means they're also watching out for the police on patrol, trying not to get caught.
 
"I chose to move here a year ago because renaissance that's happening in the South Grand area," Paul Davis said.  "I just visited around here and the neighbors were so nice."
 
Police say that's also a big reason they believe criminals have come this way too -- looking for unsuspecting neighbors around the growing Tower Grove Park area.
 
A couple of thugs found a 65-year-old woman Thursday afternoon and robbed her at gunpoint as she walked right from her house to her car on Connecticut.  When she screamed, they went running, but even as they ran away one fired at her, but thankfully missed.

And several weeks ago, a woman was robbed by an armed man in south St. Louis. Police say she gave him her purse, but the suspect still shot her in the face.
 
"It's very frustrating.  It's an element of society that has become unfortunately more common," St. Louis Metropolitan Police Lt. Darla Gray said.  "Where before, they were content to get the money and run to do whatever they were going to do with it, now there's an element of violence -- and that's nationwide, not just here -- that has been added where people are cooperating and they still in many cases are firing shots at them."
 
Since the rash of armed robberies and shootings began about six weeks ago in south St. Louis, police have added extra staff, many undercover.  Every day they distribute suspect descriptions and photos to patrolmen in St. Louis and in nearby cities.
 
"Special Ops (a plain clothes detectives unit) is going into the areas where we have these types of situations," Lt. Gray said.  "We're going to increase field interview reports, and we're looking at who has been released from prison that lives or works in that area who could now be back up to their old ways."
 
Police say the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to simply be aware, alert and on guard.
 
"If [criminals] have their choice between somebody who's looking down and texting while they are walking or someone who is walking confidently and looking to the left and looking to the right, or in a group, they're going to pick the person who is isolated and preoccupied," Lt. Gray said.
 
Police are also working to get more suspect descriptions out to neighbors through Neighborhood Watch movements.  In this case, the suspect descriptions are vague.  Police add that it's not uncommon for criminals to target neighborhoods far from where they live, so the bottom line is, if you see someone you don't think belongs, call police.

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