COLD CASE: 2010 robbery still unsolved

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As The Sumter Item's cold case series continues, the types of unsolved crimes examined will venture from murder mysteries and missing person cases to include unresolved incidents of a different category, such as a robbery.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2010, two suspects allegedly approached an employee of a business in the 500 block of West Liberty Street while she was leaving work and stole a bag containing personal items and money, according to an incident report.

The employee, who does not wish to be named, said before closing the business she took out the trash and went back inside the building to gather her things. While she was exiting the business - the employee said she was backing out of the building and locking the door - she heard footsteps quickly approaching.

"As soon as I clicked the lock, I heard footsteps, and they were right in my face," she said.

She said both of the men were wearing navy blue bandannas over the lower portion of their faces and wore a hoodie or hat to cover the top of their heads.

From what she could tell, the employee said, one of the men was carrying a sawed-off shotgun.

She said neither of the men said a word, but one of them grabbed the bag she carried on her left shoulder and pulled her to the ground. She said she would have handed over the bag without resisting if the men had asked for it.

The incident report states the suspects took off toward Blanding Street on foot.

After the robbery, the employee got into her vehicle and drove to the nearest well-lit business and called law enforcement.

She said she thinks the suspects saw her when she took out the garbage and waited for her to leave the business. Unfortunately, people check your behavior, even if it is just one time, she said.

Capt. Angela Rabon with the Sumter Police Department said the agency receives calls about the robbery from time to time but that no concrete information has come to light.

The robbery has not been linked to others that happened around that time, she said.

Rabon said the fact that the suspects' faces were covered up makes it difficult to send out a description to the public. The employee said she could tell the suspects were black because the upper portion of their faces were visible despite the bandannas, hoodies and hats.

Anyone with information about the 2010 robbery can contact Sumter Police Department at (803) 436-2700. Information can also be provided anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at (803) 468-2718 or 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Though the main purpose of resurfacing details of the robbery is to gain information to apprehend the suspects, the incident also serves as a reminder to be cautious when leaving work at night.

Law enforcement personnel will walk you to your vehicle if you're leaving work alone at night, Rabon said.

The important thing is to trust your instinct, she said.

People don't realize what can happen in a split second, the employee said.

She said she considers herself to be typically aware of her surroundings, but she has since increased her safety practices when leaving work. She asked police officers to escort her to her vehicle for some time after the incident and requested more patrols in the area.

Waiting for the officer to arrive is worth the additional safety, she said.

She said employees always leave with another person now and never stay at the business alone.

The business also has security lights outside that shine on the parking lot, and business hours are adjusted according to daylight saving time, she said.

"I just don't want it to happen to someone else," she said. "I was very lucky. My faith in God helped with that."