Indian River County deputies urge shoppers to be watchful following Vero Beach Outlets armed robbery

Posted at 10:17 PM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 23:30:39-05

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. -- Holiday shopping safety is top of mind for shoppers in Vero Beach following an armed robbery at the Vero Beach Outlets.

Indian River County detectives are still trying to identify a man who walked into the Guess outlet store, pulled out a gun and demanded cash.


Two employees were inside, but they were not injured.


“There were no shoppers at the time, but that’s not to say shoppers shouldn’t be vigilant. Now is the time where people get desperate,” said Lt. Eric Flowers.


Deputies are stepping up their patrols in busy shopping areas. Security guards are also on alert.


Flowers says shoppers also need to step up their vigilance.


“We speak so often about protecting packages and making sure you put your packages in the trunk instead of on the front seat. We don’t talk about personal safety very often.”


Flowers says now is the time to have that conversation.


He stresses the importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep your eyes up instead of staring at your phone or the sale item in front of you.


 “What’s happening around me? Who’s in the store? What are my odds? What’s happening around here?” Flowers said. 


The robbery was on Kay Campbell’s mind while shopping at the outlets Tuesday.


“It was getting dark and we started to say, you know, there was something here last night. So, let’s kind of do a shortcut if we can,” Campbell said.


She and her husband say they walked through the parking lot quickly and with purpose.


“You can’t just walk with tunnel vision,” Campbell said.


She used to talk to college students about campus safety for a living, so she understands the message deputies are stressing.


She checked several items off her Christmas shopping list Tuesday, but she isn’t done yet.


She will be alert, however, for the remaining holiday shopping days she has left. 


“Things can be replaced, but people, that’s what we’re really concerned about,” Flowers said.


Flowers says cameras did not capture the armed robber.


Witnesses only gave a vague description of him and his getaway car.


Anyone with information should call the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.