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Wave of unsolved Las Vegas robberies could grow more vicious, police fear

Elderly residents are victimized as they open their garages

Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 10:10 p.m.

Stefan Tilly never saw the men coming.

It was a little after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and Tilly was returning home from a grocery store run at Albertson’s. He pulled up to his driveway, switched off the engine and began to ease his 79-year-old body out of the car. He had one foot on the ground when two men approached from behind.

One of the men grabbed his head and slammed him to the ground ripping open a six-inch gash on his leg. The second man pinned his legs to the ground while the first sat on his chest and rifled through his pockets for loot. Blood pooled on the ground from his cut. Tilly struggled, but it was no use. It was all over so fast.

They took his wallet, which carried the $800 he withdrew from the bank for a trip to California, and more importantly, they took his gold necklace. It was a gift from his wife before she died nine years ago.

“Everything happened very fast,” Tilly said. “I’m just glad to get into the house, and my daughter-in- law called the police and ambulance.”

Tilly escaped from the incident with cuts and bruises, including one around his neck, a reminder of where his necklace once rested. Tilly’s story highlights a growing trend of robberies against people over age 50 in Las Vegas over the past month.

About 10 robberies have been committed in Metro's jurisdiction since July 4, Metro Robbery Section Lt. William Scott announced at a press conference Thursday. The number, as well as the ferocity of the robberies, has especially escalated over the past week, which, along with a lack of information on the suspected robbers, has officers fearing that someone might be injured or even killed.

"Our fear here in (Metro) is that the crimes are going to get violent," Scott said. "We're afraid that somebody's going to be injured."

All of the robberies have involved an individual or small group men approaching people as they open their garage, demanding they get on the floor, threatening the victims with a firearm and stealing anywhere from $100 to $1,000 in cash and property before quickly fleeing the scene, he said.

Though the victims often have a difficult time providing information on the robbers, Scott said it's likely there are multiple crews committing the crimes. Robbers may also be attracted to this specific type of crime because of a lower risk and less chance of being captured on video.

Several of the attacks have led to violence, with shots being fired at one robbery on July 8, and Tilly’s experience on Wednesday, Scott said. The experience has left Tilly more wary of his surroundings at home.

“I’m just going to look better to the back and front now,” Tilly said.

Many of the robberies happened around the area of Charleston and Jones boulevards, but Scott said the robberies were happening throughout Las Vegas.

Scott asked that anyone with information about the robberies to contact Metro, and recommended that people remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings to try to avoid future attacks.

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