Man holds up LWR Hallmark store with syringe and vial

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A man robbed a Hallmark store Friday afternoon while clutching a vial and a syringe and telling the clerk he had AIDS, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The man, who appeared to be in his mid-to-late 20s and weighed about 160 pounds, had perused cards in the store at 8322 Market Street, waiting for customers to leave. He then selected a 99 cent card and went up to the cashier at about 4:15 p.m. When the woman began the transaction, the man told her it was a robbery, said Manatee County Sheriff Scott Sgt. Scott Lindauer.

She opened the drawer, and he removed some of the larger bills and then fled with the cash.

“It’s definitely not the great train robbery. That’s for sure,” said Lindauer, who responded to the call. “They were saying, ‘I can’t believe he robbed a Hallmark, but people will rob people over $10.”

No one was injured from the incident.

Three sheriff’s dogs tried to track the scruffy robber with dark hair who was wearing a maroon shirt, dark shorts and a green baseball cap with yellow letters, “FL.” No suspects were located, Lindauer said.

Anyone with any information about the robbery can contact the sheriff’s office at 747-3011 or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).