AT&T store robber may be repeat offender

A robber at an AT&T store in Martinez took time out to help a customer, after forcing the lone worker to give up his shirt. Now, police are trying to determine if that intruder had held up the same store months earlier.

The latest heist happened at the store on Arnold Drive about 7:30 p.m. Monday, a half-hour before the business closed for the evening. 

A man in a white shirt came first and was greeted by the lone employee. A second man then walked in and told the worker that he had a gun, although none was seen.

The first suspect warned the worker that he better listen to them, police said.

The second suspect "walked right up to the AT&T worker and said, 'Let's go into the back. I know where everything is,' " said Martinez police Sgt. Fred Ferrer. 

The robbers were about to try to access the security system when a customer came into the store. 

"The suspect that stated he had the gun told the employee to take his shirt off," Ferrer said. "The employee took his shirt off. The suspect put the shirt on and went out and helped the customer."

Photos taken from the store's surveillance system show one of the suspects wearing the employee's shirt that reads, "AT&T Authorized Retailer." He's also trying to hold up his saggy pants.

After the customer left, the intruders continued on with the robbery.

"They cleared out the inventory closet, the cash out of the cash register," Ferrer said.

All told, the robbers stole $179 in cash and at least $45,000 in merchandise. Police say they are still trying to contact the customer who was helped by the suspect posing as a worker.

The same store was hit by robbers back in April.

Sources close to the case say they believe a man seen on surveillance wearing a construction vest is the same man who pretended to be a store worker Monday night.

The second robber in the earlier holdup was wearing a ski mask and a "Star Wars" shirt.

KTVU has learned that authorities are trying to see if the robbers have connections to a former store employee who could have given them inside information about the business.

People we spoke to were stunned by the brazenness of the crimes.

"I just paid my bill," said Mike Retta, who lives near the store. "I wonder if those were real AT&T people." He chuckled. 'They could be masquerading, I don't know."

Megan Stevens, who works at a nearby business, said, "They stole thousands of dollars in merchandise, and they probably needed a way to do that but also to keep people distracted, from calling the cops, so probably that's why they dressed up."