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Daylight North Tonawanda holdup believed to be latest in monthlong spree

Police fear that armed robbers who have been staging holdups in Erie and Niagara counties for the past month have become bolder.

The Able Insurance Agency on Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda was held up Monday in broad daylight.

Since Dec. 24, more than a dozen armed robberies that appear to be related have been reported at convenience stores in Erie and Niagara counties, all under cover of darkness.

“We do believe this is related to the others,” North Tonawanda Capt. Thomas Krantz, chief of detectives, said Wednesday.

He noted that there are similarities in the suspects and how the robberies were done.

The difference in this case was the business hit by the suspects, which Krantz said “absolutely does concern them.”

“If it’s the same individuals then they are changing what they are doing,” said Krantz.

“They are becoming more confident maybe, and they are willing to take more time. Plus they did this one in the daytime. It was quarter to five. It was still daylight out.”

Krantz said that employees called police about a minute after the robbery happened and that police were at the door in less than a minute. He said the men did flee on foot with cash, but he was reluctant to say how much they got, instead calling it “an undetermined amount of cash.”

Krantz said the robbers were described as two males, both wearing masks that partially covered their faces, dark clothing with hoodies. One man displayed a handgun. Krantz said police believe one man was white while the other was described as a light-skinned African-American or a Puerto Rican.

This is the second time North Tonawanda has been hit during the rash of armed robberies.

The Able Insurance Agency, 1351 Erie Ave. at Strad Avenue, is steps away from Niagara Falls Boulevard and a short distance away from where an armed robbery was reported at 2:45 a.m. last Thursday at a 7-Eleven at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Ruie Road.

Police say that about an hour later a similar holdup was reported at a 7-Eleven on North French Road in Amherst.

Police agencies across Erie and Niagara counties are working together after a growing number of these similar armed robberies have been reported in multiple jurisdictions, including but not limited to Lockport, Niagara Falls, Middleport and Cheektowaga since Christmas Eve.

Anyone with information should contact the North Tonawanda Police Detective Bureau at 692-4312.