WEST ROGERS PARK — A convenience store on Touhy Avenue is now leaving its doors locked — at all times — after it was robbed twice last week, said S & S Discount Mart's shopkeeper.
Police warned business owners of the armed robberies at 2354 W. Touhy Ave., and a third not far away in the 7000 block of North Western Avenue.
"He asked me for cigarettes," said shopkeeper Mohammed Khan, 24, of the man who robbed the store at 8 p.m. Jan. 13. "After that, he said 'Don't panic — Whatever I say do it. Empty the cash register.'"
Although the robber didn't display a gun, Khan said, he acted like he had a gun with his hand inside his pocket and "threatened to shoot."
So Khan emptied the register and the man left with $520.
On Saturday, Khan said his colleague, who works earlier in the day, was robbed and pistol whipped by a different man, who made off with $900.
"We couldn't recognize who they are," Khan said, adding that both the robbers were wearing masks.
They were also captured on the store's security cameras.
Khan said the business now leaves the door locked, only opening it for customers they recognize from the neighborhood.
The store's owner declined to immediately comment when reached by phone Tuesday.
Police issued a warning to business owners late last week — before the Saturday robbery — warning them to be aware to suspicious people hanging around their stores.
Rogers Park Police Cmdr. Thomas Waldera said the first two robberies could be related, but that the third robbery was likely a different suspect.
"We have people working it," Waldera said.
Waldera touted last year's 21 percent reduction in robberies throughout the district.
He added that out of the 300 robberies last year in the district, only 19 of them were of commercial businesses.