Armed robber targets people outside Orlando restaurants

Sheriff: May be part of larger crime spree

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORLANDO - An armed robber is targeting people outside popular Orlando restaurants right around dinner time.

On Saturday, there were at least three incidents at three different restaurants near Sand Lake Road and Orange Blossom Trail.

People heading to Olive Garden couldn't believe an armed robbery happened right outside that restaurant. Two employees were out back around 6:30 in the evening, when a man drove up in a silver four-door car with the music blaring. According to an Orange County Sheriff's Office report, the suspect jumped out of the vehicle, held up a weapon, and demanded an employee's wallet.

"Oh, it does surprise me," said Lourdes Cardona, who was eating at Olive Garden with her grandchildren. "There should be security."

"I wouldn't expect that to happen here," said Martha Gutierrez. "Because it's supposed to be safe, a parking lot is supposed to be safe."

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office report, it could be part of an even larger crime spree. Similar robberies happened that same night at a Pollo Tropical and a Wendy's on McCoy Road.

"You know, the crisis is hitting people," said diner Rico Recuero. "People are taking things in their own hands and they're doing stuff they wouldn't actually do."

After hitting the restaurants, it's believed that same man then approached a woman at a nearby Citgo gas station. He again pulled out his gun, but this time, admitted he'd been robbing people and asked the woman to try using one of the stolen credit cards. According to the sheriff's office report, she said no and he drove off.

For moms like Janice Thomas, it's just another reminder to always be aware of your surroundings.

"Their safety is my number one priority," said Thomas.

There were no reports of injuries in any of the crimes. Some of the victims described the suspect as either a white or Hispanic male, about 5' 10" tall, wearing prescription glasses, a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans. His silver car was possibly a Buick or a Mercury with dark tinted windows. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers.

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