Robberies Hamper Community's Development

Two robberies earlier today on the city's north side mean more than a few dollars taken from a business.

It has a greater effect on the whole community.

When local businesses are robbed, that ripple effect creates a bad outside image of an area and can hamper a community's economic growth.

The first robbery happened around 10am Monday morning at the "99 Cent and More" store near 42nd and Redman Avenue.

Police say a man entered the store, flashed a gun and demanded money.

Half an hour later, it happened again at the L-402 store near 62nd and Ames Avenue.

Store Owner William Dortch says a masked man entered the store with a gun.

"We haven't been robbed in the whole nearly three years we've been open," he said. "So I wasn't ready for something like that."

"Officers started looking around in the area and they have found footprints," Omaha Police Lt. Marcia Janucik said.

Those tracks led police behind a restaurant on the other side of Ames. Dogs were called in but they lost the scent.

Police believe a car was waiting for the robber.

Both businesses hit are small, local operations.

Ray Curtis lives just down the street from the L-402 Store. Curtis says even if robbers get away with a small amount of cash, their actions ultimately hurt the entire community's development.

"When somebody comes in and has a robbery it throws everybody askew and it scares some of the employees and it really makes it hard for that small business owner to function properly." he said. "And it scares people out of opening their own business."

"The money stays here not goes to some corporate office in Belgium or something," he said. "Your money stays here and that's what you've got to do to make a community strong is support your local businesses anytime you can. "It's everybody for everybody, not me over someone else. If you want things to be better you have to take an active role in it."

Dortch says he won't let a few bad seeds stifle the growth he wants to bring to the area.

"No body got shot, nobody got hurt so its a blessed moment," he said.

Dortch says he's planning on adding more security to his business, just in case.

As for the suspects in the two robberies, police are not saying they are related and are continuing the search for them.

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