More than 20 area business robberies could be related, KC police say

Kansas City police said Wednesday they believe a loose-knit group of robbers may have held up more than 20 businesses in the area in recent months.

Officers have arrested five suspects believed to be part of the ring, but others remain on the loose, police said, and may have pulled off a violent heist Friday at a Sonic restaurant near East 104th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard.

In that case, a man asked for an application about 6:40 p.m. and pulled a gun when the employee returned with the paperwork. The gunman pushed his way into the restaurant, stole cash from the safe and hit a 19-year-old employee repeatedly in the head with a gun because she could not open a second time-delayed safe.

Police also think a robbery Sunday at a 7-Eleven at 319 E. 63rd Street could be connected to the pattern, which initially involved just businesses in south Kansas City and the surrounding area but has apparently spread north, said Robbery Detective Dawn Templeton.

In that crime, a gunman entered the store about 8:05 p.m., asked a woman if she worked there and then cocked his gun. He demanded cash from the registers and specifically demanded the “big bills,” but employees told him they had already “dropped” the money in the safe.

Most of the victim businesses have been fast food restaurants, including four robberies at Church’s Chicken restaurants. Templeton said she did not think the Sonic robbery in Lenexa Sunday was related to the others.

Police said they arrested three young men after a Dec. 28 holdup at a Mexican restaurant at 3540 Main St., and prosecutors charged them. Police also arrested two men who were charged in an unrelated burglary case.