By: Sarah Snyder
Three armed robberies in just three weeks, and this time the victims aren't convenience stores or homes - they're insurance companies. The latest happened Tuesday at the Beeson Insurance Agency in Odessa.
Law enforcement believes each of those three aggravated robberies may be connected. Just after lunch on Tuesday, Ector County officers were called to Beeson's on West University and reported an aggravated robbery that sounds identical to the previous two. NewsWest 9 spoke with those victims to find out what happened and what officials are doing to look for the suspect.
"It's not a common business that gets robbed," Captain Billy Clark with the Ector County Crime Control Bureau, said.
Here's how it goes: a man walks into each of these businesses, acting like he wants insurance information. After a lengthy discussion, he pulls out a pistol, demands money, then takes off running. No one's been hurt in any of the heists, but employees say workplace tensions are definitely on the rise.
"I was absolutely shocked," Dan Bertelson, Owner of Allstate Insurance in Odessa, said. "This has never happened before and that office has been there 21-22 years. We were totally shocked. We've had counseling, they're doing a lot better, but it is a traumatic event."
The Allstate office was the first to get hit on October 23rd. He says the suspect's pretty sly.
"He's very deceptive," Bertelson said. "We've studied the videos - we've seen him, we just can't target it, so he's pretty smart."
Just two weeks later, staff at Fred Loya Insurance became the victims. They told NewsWest 9 the same story: this man acted like a customer, then pulled a gun on an unsuspecting employee demanding cash. After Tuesday's robbery at Beeson's, investigators believe the same man is behind each hit.
"The descriptions are very similar," Captain Clark said. "We're working with the city and there's a good chance they're related."
"Obviously that guy's still out there," Bertelson said. "We would love to get him off the streets. We'll help them any way we can. This guy is pretty slick."
And for now, the insurance companies say, they're making sure this never happens again.
"We have done a number of different things to make ourselves a much more difficult target," Bertelson said.