BENNINGTON — The town is reeling from a string of armed robberies, three since Friday night.
The first in the recent spate occurred Friday at the Subway Sandwich Shop on North Street. Bennington Police said that at 11:45 p.m. someone entered the restaurant, pointed a gun at the two employees there, and demanded money. The person left after getting the cash.
This was followed by an armed robbery at Paulin's, a gas station and laundromat, in North Bennington. Police said that at 6:44 p.m. someone entered the store, brandished a gun at the clerk, then fled on foot after taking cash from the register.
Early Monday, two employes of Martin's Mobil Mini Mart were robbed at gunpoint by two males while taking a night deposit at a local bank.
No one was injured in any of these events and police have not disclosed the dollar amounts taken.
The descriptions of the Subway robber and the person who robbed Paulin's bear some similarities.
Police said of the Subway robber, "The person was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with the hood up on top of a baseball cap. Black scarf across his lower face. Black gloves with a grey pattern on the back, Two tone pants, with a denim blue on the front and back and light colored wide strips on the sides, grey sneakers with black soles."
They described the Paulin's robber as, "...wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with the hood up on top of a baseball cap. Black scarf across his lower face. Black gloves with a grey pattern on the back, grey sneakers with black soles. 5'6" to 5'8" medium build and weight."
For Subway and Paulin's, this is the second armed robbery within the past seven months, with Subway having been robbed at knifepoint in July, and Paulin's in late November by a person carrying a crowbar.
In October, a person wielding a handgun entered Willy's Variety on Gage Street and threatened an employee there while demanding money, and on Dec. 22, a person forced entry into a Putnam Street home while carrying a weapon and demanded valuables from the occupants.
Bennington Police have been giving tips to store owners to protect against armed robberies.
"They have suggested we change the things we are doing, so we are not doing certain things at the same time of day," said Lisa Dupee, who co-owns Martin's. "You change things up so there's no pattern (robbers) could be watching."
She said police have also suggested stores keep as little money in them as possible, and if they are able to do so, put the cash registers far from doors. They have also offered tips on how to position security cameras to better gauge a person's height.
Dupee said this robbery was preceded by a break-in in November where a larger amount of cash was stolen.
Her employees for the more recent event were shaken, but unhurt.
An employee at Subway, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said one of the workers there will no longer work nights for fear of being robbed. Over the past few years, the Subway has experienced one or two break-ins per year. Since increasing security against break-ins, the robberies have started.
News of the recent robberies was posted to the Banner's Facebook page, garnering a large response.
Facebook user Dorothy Blockburger Roberts posted: "Unless this town admits the drug problem is out of control and gets serious about cleaning it up someone is going to get killed. What if someone had walked into Subway while this was happening, startled the robber and got shot?"
Facebook user Jessica Twardy Roberts posted: "Awful. Once you rob with a gun you are risking lives including your own! This won't end well."
"I am feeling unsafe and uneasy," Facebook user Tia C Briere posted. "What is happening to our community? This is so sad."