Lafayette police described the takeover-style robbery of the Lafayette Trader Joe’s store Saturday night, saying three suspects succeeded in robbing the store without displaying a weapon or firing a shot.
Investigators said the apparently well-planned robbery kicked off just before closing at the popular and heavily patronized local market, with three black males – all with their faces obscured and wearing hoodie sweatshirts – entering the store at 8:52 p.m. and systematically taking up key positions inside. Two men took control of the door, warning off prospective customers with their voices alone, police said, and apparently never brandishing a weapon.
The third suspect went directly to the manager’s office, where the store manager had the company safe open and was counting the night’s receipts, and demanded that money. It was not known how much was handed over.
Police quickly got wind of the robbery and flooded the area. A perimeter was established and a police canine team brought in to help search. The canine lost the scent of the individuals at the intersection of Mountain View and Bickerstaff Drives south of the store and it is believed, police said, that the suspects may have actually fled the store traveling south on Mountain View Drive to an awaiting vehicle near the intersection of Bickerstaff Road. The suspects were not located.
Police said the trio in this instance were very familiar with store operations and that it was likely they had cased the business at an earlier time. In what has become a standard investigative practice in recent months, police are asking anyone in the neighborhood behind the store to check any surveillance system they may have for any sign of the suspects.