Five Marion dollar stores targeted in armed robberies

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Armed robbers in Marion County continue to target dollar stores and their customers, authorities say.

A Dollar General was robbed Monday in Belleview, a day after authorities said two men held up workers and customers, including a 15-year-old boy, at gunpoint inside the Dollar General in Marion Oaks before taking off with cash.

The teenager's wallet was taken along with the wallet of another shopper.

A 9-year-old girl and her mother were held at gunpoint in September during another robbery at the Marion Oaks store.

Surveillance video shows the young girl stumbling and falling to the ground, obviously terrified, as her mother attempts to shield her.

The assailants should be considered armed and dangerous, Marion County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lauren Lettelier said.

Lettelier said the Sheriff's Office is dedicating additional resources to the cases and adding patrols around Dollar General stores.

Currently, detectives are investigating 10 armed robberies in unincorporated Marion County, four of which were at Dollar General stores, according to Lettelier. Two of the Dollar General robberies occurred within Ocala city limits. She said it is likely the same group of men is committing the robberies.

Shoppers said they are shaken and want Dollar General to take additional security measures.

"Even if it's to hire one guy to sit in the parking lot with a light on the roof, just to make customers to feel safe,"  shopper Dane Maxson said.

News 6 asked Dollar General if it will take additional security measures to protect customers.

"Dollar General serves the Marion County communities by providing its customers with everyday value and convenience through its 38 stores in the county," Crystal Ghassemi, Dollar General Corp. spokesperson said, in a statement to News 6. "The safety of our employees and customers is a top priority, and we employ a number of safety and security procedures to prevent, deter and, if necessary, respond to criminal activity in our stores. To protect the integrity of these measures, we do not comment on them specifically."

"As a local business and community stakeholder, we continue to work collaboratively with local law enforcement to reduce crime in our stores and the neighborhoods where we do business," Ghassemi said.

The five stores are located within a half-hour of each other. Here are the store addresses:

-7120 E. Highway 25 in Belleview
-896 Marion Oaks Manor in Ocala (robbed twice)
-3751 S. Pine Ave. in Ocala
-1111 W. Silver Springs Blvd. in Ocala
-19552 SW 56th Lane in Dunnellon


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