According to Antioch Police Detective Santiago Castillo, two incidents of armed robbery have been reported outside the Walmart on Lone Tree Way. On Nov. 27 at about 8:30 p.m., two men ordered two women to give up their purses at gunpoint in the Walmart parking lot. The robbers then fled west toward Jack in the Box.
Two days later, at around 9:30 p.m., two more women were robbed as they walked into the store.
Castillo described the suspects in the two robberies as two young African-American men, roughly 18 years old. One stands about 5 feet, 6 inches and the other 5-8. They were both seen wearing dark clothes and dark hooded sweatshirts. He noted that physical descriptions of the two men are similar: both are thinly built and armed with black handguns.
“We do have video surveillance, so the case is still open,” Castillo said. “It’s still an active investigation. In either of these incidences, nobody was hurt.”
In response to the crimes, Walmart assistant manager Roger Anderson said that the store has increased its security. An inquiry to the company’s public relations office was not returned prior to deadline.
Robbery victim Jessica Walton of Bethel Island described the incident in an e-mail to The Press, and other women have posted on Facebook warnings against shopping alone at Walmart. Walton claimed that two men snatched her mother’s purse and put a gun to her face. When Walton followed the men, she said they fired three shots at her. Walton was also critical of the store’s management and security firm, which she felt did nothing to stop the crime.
“I don’t want to see or hear about anyone else getting violated or hurt over these kids,” Walton wrote. “It is much more than them taking a purse and waving a gun, it’s our peace of mind and inconvenience it is just to go shopping. I want these kids to know that it is not okay and they will be caught.”
Castillo said the department sees an uptick in theft around this time of year, as people are shopping for presents. He urged shoppers to use common sense when out buying gifts, regardless of the store. Castillo said shoppers should become more aware of their environment and make sure they park in a well-lit area.
“You don’t want to park in the dark part of the parking lot,” Castillo said. “Most criminals like the cover of darkness.”
The detective said thieves know that people tend to carry more cash and gift cards this time of year. If you have a lot of cash on hand or are carrying several gifts, try to avoid shopping at night. He also advised women shopping at night to not carry money in their purses, but in a pocket or somewhere not as accessible to robbers.
“The best way for people to be safe,” Castillo said, “is to be cognizant of their surroundings.”