Six food outlets have been similarly hit in the past week, police say.
The same masked gunmen may be responsible for six robberies in the Twin Cities in the past week, with two coming Thursday morning at Subways a few miles apart.
There have been no arrests, and no detailed descriptions of the suspects have been released.
The first of Thursday’s two stickups occurred in Minneapolis shortly after 7 a.m. at the Subway at 2400 E. Hennepin Avenue, where the suspects put the employees in the cooler and fled with cash, according to police spokesman John Elder.
The workers exited the cooler about 5 minutes later and called police, Elder said.
The pistol-toting trio then struck about 8:30 a.m. at the Subway two-plus miles to the north in the St. Anthony Shopping Center at 2900 NE. Pentagon Drive, said St. Anthony Police Chief John Ohl.
Ohl said the men forced open the safe and cash drawer, then left with the loot. No one was hurt, he added.
“Our crime lab is down there and working with the Minneapolis crime lab,” Ohl said late Thursday morning. “Anytime there is a robbery and weapons are displayed, we get a little nervous.”
On Monday, nearly the same scenario unfolded at the Lone Spur Grill and Bar on Cedar Lake Road in Minnetonka, down the street from Hopkins High School and North Junior High School.
Elder said his department’s investigators “are meeting the [Minnetonka] detectives to see if there are similarities and if they are indeed the same people.”
The Lone Spur robbery on Monday occurred when gunmen slipped in through an open back door about an hour before the restaurant was scheduled to open. The men took employees’ wallets and cellphones and were roughed up a bit, police said.
Another Subway in Minneapolis was held up about 7 a.m. on March 13 by three suspects, according to a neighborhood crime alert. At least two of the robbers were armed with handguns, when they robbed the Subway on 50th Street near Chowen Avenue S., the alert said. The three ranged in age from late teens to late 20s.
“The suspects pushed their way in when the manager went to the door,” the alert read, “demanded him to open both the cash register and safe, getting away with approximately $2,100.”
Elder said his department is also looking at two other holdups in recent days under similar circumstances: one about 9:50 p.m. Sunday at the Subway at 3541 Cedar Av. S., and the other at a Quiznos at 1851 Washington Av. S., just west of the University of Minnesota.
Quiznos manager Marco Quiroga was there late Monday morning, when the gunmen ordered him to the ground, busted the store’s video surveillance recording device and grabbed cash from the safe and register.
“I’m really, really mad,” said Quiroga, who has worked for Quiznos for 10 years and has never experienced such a traumatic encounter.
“They put my co-worker into the freezer,” he said. “She was really scared.”
Acknowledging all of the robberies’ similarities, Elder remained cautious toward definitely connecting all six, saying, “We do have a string of these robberies. They appear to be [related], on the surface.”
Police urged anyone with information on these cases to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or text TIP674 plus your information to 274637 (CRIMES). Additionally, citizens can go to crimestoppersmn.org and click on “Give a Tip.” No names are used, and those providing information may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.