BENNINGTON — The town is taking action in the wake of a string of armed robberies that took place over the course of the weekend.
Bennington Police have modified their patrols, authorized overtime pay in order to more officers to specific shifts, and gone around to local businesses offering advice on how to increase security.
"Should any merchants feel unsafe transporting money out in the open, the police department is willing to provide an escort to and from deposit boxes, vehicles and banks," according to a statement released by the town.
Police offered the following tips through a release.
• Keep entrance doors locked before and after hours of operation,
• Make multiple bank deposits throughout the day,
• Limit the amount of money kept at the business,
• Change regular routines to minimize predictability.
The robberies, three between Friday night and early Monday morning, were discussed Monday at a Select Board meeting.
"We hope to bring the person, or persons, involved to justice," said Town Manager Stuart Hurd. "We would ask the people in the community, if you know, or suspect that you know, that someone is involved, and there are people in this community to who know who are involved in these armed robberies, please contact the Bennington Police Department."
Board Chairman Thomas Jacobs said the community must band together and keep a watch. He also urged merchants to vary their schedules and procedures to keep potential robbers from learning those patterns and taking advantage of them.
"We are going to do whatever we need to do, whatever it costs, to make sure our citizens are protected," he said.
"We are a border town, and it's easy to get out of this town and get over into another state within about five or seven minutes," said board member Michael Keane. "It seems that whoever is doing this knows how to get the hell out pretty quickly, and there are a lot of places to hide. We need to be vigilant and we also need to be a little sharper in noting who comes and who goes."
Bennington resident Christopher Wright asked if reward money had been posted for information on the robberies.
Hurd said that so far, only Willy's Variety, which was robbed at gunpoint in October, has offered a reward. It was last reported that information regarding that incident is $750.
At the end of the meeting, board member Jim Carroll made a motion for the board to allocate money and offer a $1,000 reward for information on any one of the recent incidents. His motion did not receive a second, as board members felt Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette should be consulted first.
Wright donated to the reward fund, handing Hurd an amount of cash, which Hurd then said he would match.
Anyone with information on the robberies is asked to contact Bennington Police at 802-442-1030 or they can use an anonymous tip line, 802-445-3937.
The first robbery in the recent spate was reported at Subway on North Street, Friday shortly before midnight. The second was at Paulin's, a gas station and laundromat in North Bennington. This was reported Sunday night shortly before 7 p.m. Both of these places had been robbed in the past several months, but this time it was at gunpoint. In each case, the robber wore a great deal of heavy clothing to hide their appearance. Early Monday, two employees of Martin's Mobil Mini Mart in Bennington were robbed at gunpoint by two males while making a bank deposit.
Bennington Police released this video of the robbery reported at Subway
This video shows the robbery at Paulin's.