Pepper Spray Robbers on the Loose in Reno

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A new form of armed robbery is hitting our area... and the weapon comes in the form of a can. It's pepper spray, and this week, two local convenience stores have been robbed this way.

Both robberies took place within just blocks of one another...and the suspect descriptions are similar. Reno police say they do believe the two robberies are related, but have yet to make any arrests.

While pepper spray isn't a deadly weapon, the victim's say it's just as scary. Just after one Thursday morning, the Terrible's convenience store on Arlington was robbed after the clerk was doused in pepper spray. The store was closed most of the day while owners cleaned up the sticky mess.

A few blocks away at Second and Keystone, owners of the City-Corner store are still reeling from a similar robbery that took place Tuesday.

About four that morning, two men went into the store and pretended to buy a drink. Surveillance video shows that when the clerk opened the register drawer, one of the men squirted him in the eyes with pepper spray, and continued to douse him until they'd stolen about $300 dollars in cash.

"It's scary for us because we're just working and taking care of customers and sooner or later, we get attacked," said store manager Ghile Miranda.

The clerk didn't suffer any serious injuries...other than burning and reddened eyes...but the owners say it's the boldness of the robbers that's most frightening.

"We've always been worried about this, but we never thought they would actually hurt him like that. Usually they take the money and leave," said Sim Dhillon, the owner's son.

Dhillon says the clerks are trained to cooperate with robbers when threatened, but after the store's been robbed eight times in the past two years, they've learned to expect surprises.

"We worry it's going to happen again, but what can we do? The business will go on. We have to take care of the business and customers," added Miranda.

Dhillon says, "If they ever catch them, he will definitely press charges. I'm pretty sure of that."

Owners say the scariest part is, the clerk recognized the two men who assaulted him. He says they were regulars and frequently come into the store late at night. He says if police don't find them soon, he's afraid, someone else will be next.

As spokesman for the UNR police department says officers responded to Terrible's this morning, along with the Reno Police Department, but the robbers got away.

Police say if you have any information or your recognize the men in the security video, you should call Secret Witness at 322-4900.

In both cases, the robbers were described as white men in their early 20's. They looked to be about five foot seven and around 140 to 150 pounds.