MANATEE -- Investigators are looking for a team of robbers believed to be responsible for the armed robbery and attempted robbery of as many nine local businesses, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
"Since April 17, 2015, there have been nine robberies fitting this trend -- seven in Manatee County and two in the city of Palmetto," the sheriff's office news release stated.
The robbers are described as light to medium build, dressed in black, wearing hoodies, masks and gloves, according to the release. One of the robbers also tends to wear a track suit.
In several cases, the subjects have approached business shortly before closing time. "We are working very closely together," Palmetto Chief Scott Tyler said. "There are some solid leads."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Bradenton Herald
Tyler wouldn't comment further since the cases are still very active investigations, he said.
The masked team is believed most recently to be responsible for Friday's armed robbery of a 7-Eleven in Bradenton and a Dollar General store in Palmetto late Thursday.
At about 1:20 a.m. Friday, the men entered the 7-Eleven at 6886 15th St. E. and demanded money from two employees and a delivery driver, deputies said. They were brandishing firearms, according to the victims, who gave them an undisclosed amount of money and both ran out of the store.
There were no injuries reported
Three and half hours earlier, two masked gunmen tried -- and failed -- to rob a Dollar General store in Palmetto late Thursday, according sheriff's office.
At about 9:50 p.m., the gunmen entered the store at 4910 U.S. 19. One employee locked himself in the office, while another ran out the back door.
The would-be robbers then left without taking anything, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies searched the area did not find anything relevant.
One of the robbers was described as having a thin build and was wearing a black sweatshirt with a white-and-black checkered hood. He was also wearing a black bandana over his face, blue jeans and white sneakers.
The other robber was wearing a grey, long-sleeve shirt under a black T-shirt, a black mask, black pants and black shoes, according to the report.
Anyone with information should call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011, Ext. 2495 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.