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7-Eleven owners speak out about rash of armed robberies in western Washington

A rash of recent armed robberies at convenience stores across western Washington has store owners frustrated and employees scared.

TACOMA, Wash — Brazen criminals continue to target 24-hour convenience stores and coffee shops around Puget Sound.

In a one-week span last month, 12 different overnight robberies alone in King County were confirmed by KING 5.

7-Eleven locations in particular have been hit on a regular basis.

"It's been so rapidly rising that it has been kind of getting out of control," said Chander Shekher, president of the 7-Eleven Franchisee Owners' Association of the Northwest.

Shekher owns four convenience stores in western Washington, including one in Woodinville that was among those attacked last week.

In that case, two King County Sherriff's Deputies just so happened to be driving by and caught the four suspects in the act of loading cash and cigarettes into a stolen car.

"if they're able to nab four to five such incidents, obviously these incidents will be curtailed to a great degree," Shekher said.

Other store owners have proposed stationing officers near convenience store parking lots. The King County Sherriff's Office says it is attempting to increase business checks, but with so many 24-hour store locations and limited staffing, it is not an easy task.

Shekher said not only is it harder to retain employees with so many armed robberies, but attracting customers to the stores overnight is also becoming increasingly difficult.

"People are scared to come to convenience store at night because they are not sure if criminal activity like robbery etc. are taking place there or not," he told KING 5.

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