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Bonita Bank Robberies

The News Press recently met with Mr. Scrivanich in regards to the recent increase in store burglaries to find out what people can do to reduce crime. Below is the article.

The list of armed robberies this year in Lee and Collier counties at convenience and discount stores grew to 17 Wednesday night when a Family Dollar store in Cape Coral was held up just before it closed.

Discount stores such as Family Dollar, Dollar General and others have become popular targets for criminals here and around the country.
Wednesday’s robbery on Skyline Boulevard in Southwest Cape, which ended with the arrest of two suspects, was the second at a Southwest Florida Family Dollar in June and the fourth discount-style store robbery this month. It was also the second discount store robbed in the Cape in a week.

One Southwest Florida security expert thinks he knows why discount store robberies are popular.

John Scrivanich, owner of Blue Lightning Protection in Fort Myers, said discount stores are targets because people often pay with cash, not credit.
“They have lower valued products so there is a lot of cash exchanged,” Scrivanich said. “They’re going to have more cash receipts than credit receipts.” Location also plays a part in the robberies. “All of the locations are where there is high traffic so people can get in and get out real fast,” Scrivanich said. As to whether there is a connection for the rash of discount store robberies, police are still not sure.

“It is too early to know if these suspects are directly involved with other Dollar Store robberies we have seen in Cape Coral and in other parts of Southwest Florida,” said Dana Coston, Cape Coral Police Department public affairs officer. “We will have to see what clues and information are revealed in the investigation that is ongoing. That’s going to be something we look into.” Coston confirmed that the Cape police force is paying closer attention to discount stores.

“They were aware of the recent trend and were keeping an extra eye on the stores,” Coston said. “That’s the reason they were there so quickly (at Wednesday’s robbery).” A similar robbery spree occured in Salt Lake City earlier this year. Five Family Dollar’s were robbed in the span of a month. A statement addressing Salt Lake City’s robberies said Family Dollar would be continually enhancing security to reduce the risk of robberies. In response to Wednesday’s robbery, Bryn R. Winburn, Family Dollar public relations manager, said “The safety and security of our customers and team members is a priority.”

Witness key

Coston said the actions of a witness to Wednesday’s robbery were key to police reacting quickly and apprehending the two suspects.

Cape police arrested Jonas Griffin, 25, of Fort Myers, on charges of armed robbery, grand theft, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, fleeing to elude, reckless driving, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two charges of hit and run. Police also arrested Justin Diggs, 24, of Fort Myers, on charges of armed robbery, grand theft, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary of an occupied dwelling.

This marks Griffin’s 11th arrest in Lee County. He was first arrested in 2005 by the Fort Myers Police Department for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

This was Digg’s fifth arrest in Lee County since 2012.

Diggs was found hiding in a pool box on the lanai of an occupied residence on SW Santa Barbara Place.

Two car crashes, one involving non-life-threatening injuries, occurred as the suspects fled from police.

“The actions of the witness were absolutely a key piece,” Coston said. “She kept them in sight and got on the phone. She did everything right.”

The witness told police she noticed two men wearing masks enter the store as she was leaving. She kept an eye on them from her car, watching through the store windows, the police report said.

Police said she called 911 and then followed the suspects until officers took over the chase at Skyline Boulevard.

The store manager told police he was about to close when two men entered the store with their heads and faces covered and carrying handguns.
The manager said that the two suspects threatened to kill him and an employee if they did not open the safe and give them the money, hitting him in the head with a gun multiple times as he was trying to cooperate. The manager gave the money to the suspects, and they fled. The suspects got more than $300 but less than $5,000 police said. Police found a bag containing a large amount of bills and rolled coins by the suspects’ car and in the car. They also found two handguns.

Staff writer Melissa Montoya contributed to this report.

What stores can do to prevent robberies
• Have a clearly posted sign that states only X amount of dollars are kept on hand.
• Have a drop safe that no one in the store has keys to and regularly deposit money into it.
• Always make sure there is a clear view into the store.

Source: John Scrivanich, owner of Blue Lightning Protection

For a link to the News Press article, click here: News Press