Armed robber targets Pinellas stores

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An armed and masked bandit is on the loose in southern Pinellas County. He may be behind as many as six hold-ups, striking in the darkness of night, terrorizing convenience store clerks during his robbery spree.

His Modus operandi is the same every time. He heads right for the clerk, sticks a gun to the clerk’s head and demands cash. The thief has robbed a Sunoco station on 46th Avenue in St. Petersburg three times.

Pinellas serial robber

He also hit a Circle K store on 54th Avenue N, a second Sunoco station on 4th Street N in St. Petersburg and Johnnie’s Food Mart in Pinellas Park.

News Channel 8 talked with John Zakharey, a Pinellas Park clerk who was victimized on Dec. 17.

“He was telling me (to) just give him all the money, and I was looking for the money. At this time, I really didn’t care for the money or anything. I just wanted him to get what he wants and he leave,” Zakharey said.

But the thief didn’t leave – at least not right away. With a camera recording, the thief took cash from the register. “If I didn’t give him the money, he was gonna shoot me,” Zakharey said.

Later, the culprit scooped Newport cigarettes from the shelf and headed for the door where a coin game sits. “If you want, just break it and get the money,” Zakharey told him.

A couple of hits with the gun failed to break the plexiglass. The robber managed just a few quarters from the game.

A few moments of terror turned into months of worry.”Like man’s life for $200 – $300, I don’t get it,” Zakharey said.

In one robbery, a clerk was mopping the floor when the armed bandit came in – ready to rob the place. “It’s actually pretty scary, to be honest. You don’t know what you’re expecting. You don’t know what he’s gonna do, you know, his intentions. And you’re just here taking care of the store, taking care of the customers and then your life comes in jeopardy,” Damir Hursljic said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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