The Dan and Whit's Robbery Was Over in a Minute
Police chief describes the robber as "ballsy"
Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson was in his office Thursday afternoon reviewing surveillance video of the robbery that took place at Dan and Whit's the prior evening. Though the general store looks old-fashioned on the inside, it's got a sophisticated video system. And it was that footage Robinson was examining, to see if the robber had made a prior visit to the store.
Video shows the robber was in and out of the store in about a minute. But during that time a second cashier saw the robbery in progress and alerted the store's owner, who made the call to the police. On his way out the door the robber literally ran into a customer who was on her way into the store. A minute or so later the police arrived.
Robinson describes the robber as "ballsy" because the Dan and Whit's heist took place relatively early—around 7:10 pm, when the store was still busy with customers. Typically these kind of robberies take place later at night when there is less traffic inside a store.
In contrast to the Dan and Whit's robbery, where there multiple witnesses, a single clerk was on duty at 1:00 A.M. when the Cumberland Farms store in Wilder was robbed by a man with a gun.
In his 15 years policing Norwich, this was the first robbery that Robinson has had to investigate. That's because Norwich isn't a place that brings a lot of people into the village.
"Norwich has been isolated," said Robinson. "We don't have bars, we don't have industry."
Until Wednesday night, Norwich had been spared robberies driven by the state's opioid crisis. Vermont's robbery rate increased by 40 percent over the prior year according to the 2015 Uniform Crime Report. Even so, Vermont is still the safest state in the U.S.A.
Robinson can't link the Dan and Whit's robbery with the two robberies in Wilder, but he has no doubt the crime was committed by someone with a drug addiction.
In the wake of the Dan and Whit's robbery one Norwich resident asked via the listserve whether the Thursday robbery was a harbinger of worse crime, such as car thefts and muggings, in the near future. Robinson didn't think that would be the case.
But he urged residents not to be complacent. The Dan and Whit's robbery was a crime of opportunity and residents can combat that kind of crime by taking away the opportunity— by not leaving valuables, purses and electronics on the car seat and by locking doors to homes and cars. The police department is also speaking with other town merchants about increasing vigilance among their employees.
Finally, Robinson encourages residents to call the police if they see suspicious behavior around town.