The robbers strike late at night or early in the morning, when restaurants they target have just one or two employees working. The thieves move quickly, shooting through doors and jumping over counters and sometimes taking just seconds to point a gun, grab money and flee, reports the Charlotte Observer. Between Dec. 1 and Feb. 3, the number of robberies at restaurants, diners and coffee shops has jumped from 5 to 22 compared with the same time period a year ago, a spike that worries restaurant owners and employees and baffles police.
Investigators have uncovered connections between some of the robberies, and they've already made arrests in several. Police are not sure what's causing the spike in restaurant robberies, or whether the incidents are the work of organized groups of criminals. “We don't know why this is happening. We are as taken aback as anybody,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Capt. Michelle Hummel. “We're racking our brains trying to figure out what the connection is and if there's a connection.” One high-profile robbery happened at a Pizza Hut around 8 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. The robbers struck as business was tapering off after a big rush before the game.