Columbia police investigate 3 robberies within 24 hours

Columbia police have responded to three robberies within the past 24 hours and the suspects are on the loose.

Investigators think the same people robbed two different Petro Mart convenience stores.

They believe three other men are responsible for an attempted robbery at Columbiaâ??s Brookside Apartments.

Surveillance video shows a man with a handgun robbing the Petro Mart near the Columbia Mall on North Stadium. He left on foot with an undisclosed amount cash. Police believe another security photo shows the same man with an accomplice robbing another Petro Mart near the Interstate 70 Lake of the Woods exit less than two hours later. Petro Mart employees have access to small amounts of cash. Investigators believe the men robbed a second location because they didnâ??t get enough money the first time.

Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard said, â??They have policies that the clerks have to drop money every so often, or if they get some money, they have to drop it in the safe. Generally, they donâ??t have much money.â??

Columbia police officers also responded to apartment 304 at Brookside Apartments shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday night. A neighbor called police when they saw three black males wearing masks with guns. No shots were fired. No one was hurt. Nothing was taken.

Bernhard said, â??The residents that lived there, the victims of the robbery, they did not call us. When officers arrived they werenâ??t very cooperative.â??

All five of the suspects in these three crimes remain on the loose. Investigators know they are all black males with vague descriptions.

If you have any information about these crimes, police urge you to call Columbia CrimeStoppers at 573-875-TIPS.