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Robberies at two stores


Police still investigating incidents



1228Robbery
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Thomas Variety, on East Main Street, above, and Minit Mart, on Main Street, were both robbed in the past month. Adam T. Silva. (click for larger version)
December 27, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Two stores have been robbed in the past month in a very similar fashion, which has led the owners to believe there's a connection between the two incidents.

Police are still investigating the incidents. The first took place at Thomas Variety and Convenience, at 58 East Main St., was robbed at 8:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Two armed men entered the store and pointed guns at Dhruv Swadia and his wife Hiral, one wore a mask and one did not. One of the robbers jumped over the counter and told Hiral to empty the register.

The other robber took Dhruv to the back room and told him to lay on the floor while he took off Dhruv's jewelry. The robber took Dhruv's son's backpack, which was in the back room, and filled it with the stolen money and jewelry. Dhruv's mother had taken his three-year-old son home an hour earlier. No one else was in the store at the time of the robbery.

"We have good insurance thankfully," said Dhruv. "But it's not about the insurance or the money. It's about the safety. It was all so scary. I didn't sleep for the next two nights. When I would close my eyes, all I would see was the robbery. The detective that came to the scene that night has followed up with us and has come by at closing to make sure we make it out of the store okay."

Dhruv is fairly certain that the thieves had visited the store several times before robbing it. When taking off his jewelry, they pulled up his right sleeve, where he normally wore a gold bracelet, but hadn't worn it that day. The store closed at 9 p.m. and the robbers arrived just before closing, when they knew the store would have the most money and the least amount of customers. He also said that he had seen the assailant who wasn't wearing a mask before, but did not know his name or any other information about him.

"I thought that having the police station so close would help stop us from being robbed," said Dhruv, who was robbed three years ago. "It's surprising. The police came within two or three minutes. They showed me pictures of possible suspects, but I didn't recognize any of them."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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