HOUSTON – Crime Stoppers of Houston told KPRC 2 they are noticing a frightening trend of shoppers and diners being followed from stores and restaurants and then robbed.
These recent hold-ups are happening in some busy parts of town like the Galleria area and Upper Kirby.
“I think more and more people are getting out due to the fewer restrictions on COVID. It is also open season for those who want to commit criminal conduct,” said Andy Kahan of Crime Stoppers of Houston.
KPRC 2 obtained an image of one of the armed robberies that have been circulating on the internet.
It shows two men robbing a man at the Shops at Arrive River Oaks, which is formerly known as West Ave.
“It was pretty obvious to me that it was pretty bold and brazen,” said Kahan.
It was in the middle of the day in early March. An employee who works at a nearby store said he witnessed it all.
“You are seeing more and more of it,” the employee said.
The victim was not shopping at the Shops at Arrive at River Oaks, but was likely followed from somewhere else. It’s a trend that Kahan said needs attention.
Last week, KPRC 2 reported on the armed robbery of two women who had just returned home to their Galleria area high-rise when a man robbed them in the parking garage at gunpoint.
“He did everything very smoothly like he did it before,” said one of the women. “I didn’t know it was real until I saw the gun and he snatched my bags.”
Days later on April 23, two armed robbers followed a couple home after they left a restaurant.
Police said the men stole a watch and shot one of the victims in the face.
“Like it or not, there are people that are looking at you, targeting you, casing you,” said Kahan.
He also said masks are making it harder to identify suspects.
“The COVID masks. Nobody bats an eye when somebody walks into a store with a mask anymore. Actually, if you don’t wear a mask, people are going to bat an eye. So by wearing masks and (being) able to cover up your face, it’s actually made it more difficult for us to identify those who want to rob us and prey upon us’” he said.
Kahan urges people to be aware of their surroundings, not only out at shops and restaurants, but also when they return home.
KPRC 2 contacted the Houston Police Department about the March incident at the Shops at Arrive at River Oaks, but they could not find a report on it.
If you witnessed the armed robbery, KPRC 2 would like to hear from you.