PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s hard enough making a living selling cheesesteak and pizza, but as Sue and Dwight Creen found out last week, the financial and emotional costs of being held up at gunpoint are beyond the pale.
“It’s insane,” said Dwight. “In dealing with employees, they’re scared, they don’t want to work at night.”
Police believe one gunman is responsible for the stickup at the Creens’ Chubby’s Pizza parlor in Brighton Heights and similar gunpoint robberies at nearby Wiseguys Pizza and Hanini’s Sub Shop.
But they’re all part of a spate of 32 armed robberies throughout the city in December alone.
“We’ve had convenience store robberies, cell phone store robberies; we had three bank robberies last month,” said Officer Mike Pilyih, of Pittsburgh Police.
Armed robberies are on the rise, jumping from 249 in the city in 2013 to 281 in 2014.
And on Tuesday, police arrested two males for holding up six people in the city’s West End. Then, Tuesday night, an Asian food delivery man was shot during a hold-up in the Hill District.
“People need to money for dope. That’s the bottom line,” said Pilyih.
Police investigators attribute the rise in robberies to the need of assailants to score drugs and to the availability of illegal guns. But at the same time that robberies and homicides are increasing, the number of illegal guns seized by police is down.
City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith fears that recent criticism of police interactions with the public have made the officers more reticent to aggressively confront suspected criminals.
“So, I think that they need to have confidence in doing that and not be so shy in doing their job knowing that the city and community in fact will support them,” said Kail-Smith.
But while robberies continue on their upward spring, police say the public should take steps to protect themselves – like not wearing earbuds and walking on well-lit streets.
“Look around every couple of seconds, see if someone’s following you. If need be, you run,” Pilyih said.
They call it situational awareness – be aware of where you are and the potential dangers, and be prepared to react.
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