Two adjacent storefront restaurants in Moncks Corner, a pizzeria and a Chinese restaurant, were robbed simultaneously by two masked bandits Thursday night, police said.
Authorities suspect the robberies might be connected to a recent spate of armed robberies of Asian restaurants in the Lowcountry.
In the two cases Thursday night, the robbers were so completely covered up, police can’t say for sure if they were male or female, or identify them by race.
About 9:34 p.m. one handgun-wielding robber walked into Hong Kong China Restaurant on S.C. Highway 52 in Moncks Corner.
At the exact same time, another robber entered Domino’s Pizza, which is right next door, Moncks Corner Police Sgt. Brad Norvell said.
Both robbers were armed with handguns and both were wearing dark clothing, Norvell said.
“They were completely covered from head to toe, even their hands,” he said.
Witnesses were unable to tell with certainty if the robbers were male or female or if they were black or white, Norvell said.
Because of their builds and the way they spoke and acted, police assume the robbers were males, he said.
No one was injured in either robbery and no shots were fired.
The robber at the Chinese restaurant took money from the cash register and from two individuals who were in the business, Norvell said. At the pizzeria, the robber took only the money from the register.
The victims told police they did not see the robbers get out of or into any vehicles, Norvell said. The robbers ran out of the businesses on foot, with the bandit at the Chinese restaurant leaving through the back door and the one at Domino’s leaving through the front.
“Our officers got there within a minute of the call,” Norvell said. With the assistance of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, tracking dogs were deployed and a trail was picked up, but the dogs lost the scent about 100 yards from the scene. Police suspect the robbers got into a getaway vehicle there, he said.
Investigators believe the robberies might be connected to the string of at least 26 Asian restaurant robberies in the Lowcountry since April, Norvell said. A $20,000 reward for information in those cases was announced on Thursday.
A task force comprised of the State Law Enforcement Division, the FBI and a number of county and local agencies has mounted a coordinated investigation into the robberies. Moncks Corner police have discussed the Thursday night robberies with the task force, Norvell said. The height and weight descriptions provided by witnesses are similar to the descriptions in the earlier Asian restaurant robberies, he said.