Waco Police see increase in robberies at smoke shops - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Waco Police see increase in robberies at smoke shops

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

Waco Police have seen an increase in robberies at smoke shops with game rooms in recent years.

Since June, there have been at least three armed robberies, including one in at the A&M Smoke Shop and two at the Tee’s Smoke Shop.

Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said some of these businesses are targeted because criminals know there is a large amount of cash in those places. He added those game rooms are not legally required not to pay cash, but some of them still do it.

"These game rooms that have a potential for doing some illegal gambling operations in there, unfortunately, the bad guys know that guys in there,” Swanton said.

He said if these game rooms are paying a large amount of cash that information usually goes out to those who may have intentions to rob the place.

"When the business is doing that, they don't know who they are paying because they're not keeping records of who wins and they potentially they could be setting themselves up for a robbery down the road down the road,” Swanton said.

The resident of the Glen Oaks apartment complex where a shooting happened early Tuesday morning who wanted to be identified as Mr. Kramer said he thinks game rooms have contributed to more crime on Sanger Avenue.

"Anytime you have a game room, it increases traffic,” Kramer said.

In June, a stabbing happened outside of the A&J Smoke and Gift Shop between a man who was leaving the game room and a known acquaintance. Police said the stabbing was not related to the business. Police later arrested James Hightower on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Kramer said he would like to see more patrolling from Waco Police in his neighborhood.

According to Waco Police, officers check on those businesses frequently and conduct undercover operations at some of them.

"Again for the citizens that are involved with that, get with us, let us know what you're seeing. Advise us of what is going on in those rooms, because we need our citizens’ eyes and ears to keep our city safe,” Sgt. Swanton said.

He advised those operating illegal gambling, to stop that kind of activity.

"That kind of activity can cause you issues. If we don't put you in jail, there is a high likelihood a robber will come steal your cash and you will be looking down a barrel of a gun,” Swanton said.

News Channel 25 reached out to the A&M Smoke Shop, Tee's Smoke Shop and A&J Smoke and Gift Shop for comment. An A&M employee declined comment. Tee's Smoke Shop did not return calls and the manager from A&J Smoke Shop was not available to speak before our deadline.

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