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Police link suspect to 7 parking lot robberies
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Nicolaus Anthony Gibbs

A man arrested for robbing a shopper in the University City area has been linked to six additional robberies – all involving distracted shoppers – according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Nicolaus Anthony Gibbs, 22, was arrested Dec. 2 shortly after a woman called police to report that her purse had been taken in the parking lot of a Harris Teeter at 2201 W.T. Harris Blvd.

The victim told police she was walking to her car after shopping when she placed her purse on the front passenger seat. As she was sitting in the car, she said, a man opened her passenger-side door and grabbed the purse. As she attempted to take it back, the purse fell to the ground, spilling its contents. At that point, she said, the robber picked up her wallet, which had cash in it, and drove away in his own vehicle.

Police arrested Gibbs a short time later when they spotted a car they said matched the description given by the victim. According to CMPD, officers recovered the victims stolen property during the stop.

Detectives determined during the investigation that Gibbs was responsible for at least six similar robberies. In each case, police said, he followed shoppers back to their vehicles and grab their unattended property while they were distracted putting other items away.

On Thursday, CMPD met with reporters to emphasize the importance of parking lot safety, offering the following tips:

  • Hide or remove your valuables when leaving your car.
  • Park close to your destination, even if it means waiting for a space to become free.
  • At night, try to park under a street light.
  • Leave your engine running until you've gathered everything and you're ready to get out of the car. Check your surroundings to make sure its safe before you get out of the car.
  • When possible, back into parking spaces, it's a good way to park, because it means you can leave quickly if needed.
  • When you're walking back to your car, keep your keys in hand, so you can get into the car quickly or use them as a weapon.
  • Always take the most brightly lit path to and from your car.
  • As you approach your vehicle, check the front and back seats to make sure no one is hiding inside.
  • Place your purse/handbag in the floor of the vehicle, instead of the seat, before emptying your shopping cart. Do not be a distracted shopper.
  • After loading your vehicle, merchandise or children, lock your doors once you get inside the car before starting the engine.
  • If someone suspicious approaches you, honk your horn and flash the lights to draw attention.
  • Trust your instinct, if you sense danger when you are parking or coming back to your car, leave the area until you're sure it is secure.
  • Ask security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.
  • Get in the habit of rolling up your car windows and locking your car doors.
  • Keep all doors locked while pumping gas into vehicle.

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October 6, 2015
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