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'Newport Bandit' Robs Three 7-Elevens for Cigarettes, Cash; Hits One Twice

 Police believe this man robbed four Loop 7-Eleven stores in two months.
Police believe this man robbed four Loop 7-Eleven stores in two months.
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THE LOOP — Police think the same man committed four robberies at Loop convenience stores in December and January, demanding cash and Newport cigarettes while threatening workers with bodily harm.

There are nearly 50 7-Elevens within a five-mile radius of the one at 177 N. Wells St. — but the "Newport Bandit" hit that Loop location twice.

Central District police issued an alert Tuesday about a man who committed four 7-Eleven robberies in December and January. He was described as a black man, roughly 30 years old, around 6-feet tall and weighing between 210 and 220 pounds.

He hit one convenience store at 600 S. Dearborn St. around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 16, and another at 180 N. Franklin St. around 3 a.m. Jan. 9, taking cigarettes and about $120 in the second robbery, employee Ismael Gomez said.

At 4:08 a.m. Dec. 30, police think the same man walked into a store at 177 N. Wells St. and demanded cash and cigarettes, threatening to harm workers but making no indication he had a weapon, according to Officer Daniel O'Brien, a Chicago Police spokesman.

Around 1 a.m. Jan. 17, the same man walked into the same store at 177 N. Wells St. and made the same demands, grabbing cash and cigarettes before leaving, police said.

The chain's theft-prevention policies include placing cash registers near windows, keeping stores brightly-lit and instructing staff not to resist in the event of a robbery, according to the 7-Eleven handbook.

Employees are instructed to keep no more than $50 in the register during the day, and no more than $30 in the register after dark.

Sanaz Maanikhah, the Wells Street store's manager, declined to comment. But Gomez, who works at the other store robbed earlier this month, said employees were briefed by a manager after the robbery.

"We have a picture of him up in the back room now," he said, in an effort to help employees identify him if he tries to hit that store again.