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Armed Robbery Arrest Makes North Shore Stores Feel Safer

A Chicago man has been charged with robberies in Winnetka, Wilmette, Glenview and Northfield.

While local retailers said they were largely throughout the North Shore, employees of the victimized stores say they're happy to hear that .

“We’re excited about that,” said Alysia Bridges, an employee of in Northfield, which was robbed at knife point in late May. “We feel safer.”

The store was one of four targeted between May 16 and May 18 by a man with a knife wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with the word “lifeguard” on it. Austin Pierce, 25, 2806 N. Oakley Ave., Chicago, has been charged in the cases.

He was initially arrested on May 24 by Chicago police in connection with a series of five armed robberies in Lincoln Park between May 15 and 22. Chicago police connected him to the robberies in Winnetka, Wilmette, Glenview and Northfield and reached out to the local departments, which conducted lineups and interviews to identify and charge Pierce in their incidents, police said.

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The North Shore robbery spree began May 16 at in Wilmette. Bern Schaner, 75, has owned the store for 23 years. He said he’s pleased that police have made an arrest.

“In all the years we’ve had this store, we’ve never had anything like that happen. Obviously we are sorry (the employees) were put in that kind of position — you don’t expect that here in Wilmette or anywhere really for that matter,” said Schneider, a 42-year Wilmette resident.

Bridges said Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has tightened security since it was robbed May 17.

“We’ve changed things around,” she said. “We have two people working every shift. We’ve taken extra precautions.”

She said security cameras at nearby Viccino’s Pizza captured images of the suspect, which helped them form a description. The store is now considering adding its own cameras.

Pierce has also been charged with robbing $225 from in Winnetka, breaking a window and stealing lottery tickets from BP Amoco Gas Station in Wilmette and

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