Cops chase, catch F’ville man after week-long spree of 5 robberies

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UPDATED PRINT VERSION April 12, 2011 — Fayetteville resident Anthony Craig Dobson, 47, is in the custody of Clayton County Police after he allegedly attempted to rob two Clayton businesses during the morning hours April 12. He was arrested after a short chase on Mt. Zion Road in Clayton County, said Fayetteville Police Det. Mike Whitlow.

Dobson was wanted by Fayetteville Police in connection with three armed robberies here on April 4 and 7 and by Henry County Police for two robberies in Stockbridge on April 8 and 9. There were no injuries reported in any of the robberies.

Whitlow said Tuesday afternoon that Dobson was currently in the custody of of Clayton County Police after he attempted to rob two businesses there earlier in the morning.

Whitlow said Dobson will be transported to Henry County for booking and will eventually be brought to Fayette on charges relating to the three robberies last week in Fayetteville.

Dobson was identified as a suspect on April 11. Investigators were aided in identifying Dobson with the help of the drug stores’ video surveillance systems. Whitlow said tips provided to Fayetteville Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office after photos were released to the media resulted in Dobson being sought for the Fayetteville robberies.

Of the five robberies in six days, the first three occurred in Fayetteville. The first of those was a snatch-and-grab from the cash register at the Rite-Aid pharmacy on South Glynn Street on April 4 at approximately 8 p.m., Whitlow said.

The robber entered the store and approached the register with a candy bar. When the clerk opened the register, the male reached across the counter and grabbed an undetermined amount of cash and fled the store, Whitlow said.

The second robbery occurred April 7 at 9:45 a.m. at Jan’s Florist on South Glynn, a few blocks north of Rite-Aid. A man described by the co-owners as being a white male 35-40 years of age, wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt, a dark baseball cap and sunglasses which he never removed.

That description was nearly identical to the one provided by Rite-Aid employees. That man was later identified by Fayetteville Police as the 47-year-old Dobson.

Jan’s Florist co-owner Gail Brown said she was in the office when the floral designer came to her saying a man was at the counter needing directions to Newnan. Brown said she went to the front counter and began giving directions when the man handed her a folded piece of paper that said, “I’ve got a gun. No funny stuff. Put the money in a bag. Don’t do anything stupid.”

Brown said the man did not produce a weapon, though he had his hand in the pocket of his sweatshirt.

Brown said she turned and showed the note to co-owner Terrie Brown and reached for the cash register, adding that it was then that the man told her not to push any alarm buttons.

Terrie Brown responded to the situation, asking the man, “What’s up, buddy?”

The man responded, saying he had “a sick kid at home.”

“I gave him the money and he ran out the door and behind the store,” Gail Brown said. “I’m just glad no one was hurt.”

The man fled the store with $120-150 running south on Whitney Drive, Whitlow said.

Whitlow added that officers had canvassed the area, discovering that a man wearing sunglasses and acting suspiciously had entered a nearby nail salon approximately 30 minutes prior to the robbery at Jan’s Florist.

The third robbery also occurred on April 7, this time at approximately 4:24 p.m. at the Rite-Aid pharmacy on Ga. Highway 54 and Gingercake Road.

Whitlow said a man with the same description entered the store and approached the cashier with a purchase. Once the register was opened the man grabbed cash from the drawer, Whitlow said.

The clerk initially fought back, Whitlow said, but stopped when the man told store employees he had a gun. He subsequently grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register without producing a weapon, said Whitlow.

The man then fled the store on foot, with some of the employees and a customer from the parking lot pursuing him. Those following the man lost him in the wooded area immediately to the west of the pharmacy.

Police officers and tracking dogs with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office canvassed the woods and residential areas near the store. The scent went cold at a nearby driveway, said Police Chief Steve Heaton.

The robberies in Stockbridge began on April 8 at a Subway restaurant followed by another at Delta Community Credit Union on April 9, according to Henry County Police spokesperson Maj. Jason Bolton.

Bolton said the robber fitting Dobson’s description indicated to the Subway employees that he had a gun but did not produce a weapon.

And it was during the Delta Credit Union robbery the following day that he revealed what he claimed was an explosive device but was actually a garage door opener with a phone cord wrapped around it, Bolton said.

As with the robbery at Jan’s Florist in Fayetteville, the man told employees in both the Stockbridge robberies that he had a sick child at home, Bolton said.