City, county officials to discuss recent robberies

Published 12:25 am Sunday, March 12, 2017


NATCHEZ — After four convenience stores have been robbed in less than two weeks, local officials plan to discuss ways to thwart and capture robbers targeting stores.

The first recent robbery was reported on Feb. 28 when an armed robber wielding a nickel-plated pistol robbed the Kaiser’s Mobil Mart on U.S. 61 North. The robber was allegedly wearing a mask.

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A suspect matching the same description robbed the Kaiser’s Food and Fuel on U.S. 61 South two days later.

A few hours after that robbery, Morgantown Exxon on U.S. 61 North was robbed. Christopher Wimberly, 35, 1018 Martins Lane, was arrested and charged in the robbery. Police have said security footage has eliminated Wimberly as a suspect in the other robberies.

On Tuesday night, a man matching the description of the suspect in the Kaiser’s robberies reportedly robbed the Sprint Mart on Wood Avenue.

The robbery of Kaiser’s on U.S. 61 North occurred in the jurisdiction of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. The remaining robberies happened inside the Natchez city limits in the jurisdiction of the Natchez Police Department.

NPD Chief Daniel White said the department has increased patrols in the area of convenience stores in response to the robberies.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said deputies have done the same and have been instructed to conduct walk-throughs of stores throughout the night.

While the two agencies have yet to compare notes on their separate investigations, Patten said investigators plan to contact NPD this week to see how the two departments can work together on their investigations.

Patten said ACSO does have leads on the robbery of Kaiser’s on U.S. 61 North and is continuing to investigate.

“We are going to hunt these people to the end of the earth,” he said.

Mayor Darryl Grennell said he has not been briefed on the details of the city robberies, but said he plans to set up a meeting this week with law enforcement officials and convenience store owners.

Crime has lately been a focus of scrutiny in Natchez, with several recent burglaries reported, especially in the downtown area. Grennell has formed a crime task force made up of residents and law enforcement officials in an effort to find a solution to curbing crime.

Natchez residents and visitors, Grennell said, should feel safe when visiting local stores to make purchases or get gas.

“They shouldn’t feel they have to worry about a robbery here in Natchez,” he said. “This definitely shouldn’t take place in Natchez. I am going to try to set up a meeting with the chief along with business owners to see if we can’t come up with ways to prevent type of crime from happening in Natchez. This should not be happening in our city.”

In the meantime, White and Patten say business owners can take precautions to deter robberies and help catch suspects.

White advises store owners to limit the cash they keep in the cash register, make bank deposits during regular business hours, keep two employees on hand during opening and closing hours, install security cameras and proper lighting and report any loiterers on suspicious activity to police.

Patten offers the same advice and said store owners might consider making sure their security systems are up-to-date.

“Some of the stores need to think about upgrading their … systems,” he said. “With some of the newer systems, you would be amazed at the quality of footage you can get to help identify suspects.”

Patten encourages store owners, clerks and customers to report any suspicious activity to police.

“Even if the clerk is a little uneasy about something, I would rather err on the side of caution than to see another store get robbed,” Patten said.

Anyone with information about the robberies should contact Crime Stoppers at 601-442-5000.

Crime Stoppers offers a reward of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

Calls are anonymous.

Anyone wishing to submit anonymous tips to ACSO using their smartphone can download the tip411 app. Tipsters can also send an anonymous text tip via their cell phone by texting ACSO#1 and their tip to 847411 (tip411).