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Robber targets downtown thrift store

A "customer" at a Merced thrift store wasn't content with the normal bargains on Sunday -- he wanted 100 percent off and then some.

Lt. Floyd Higdon of the Merced Police Department said an armed robber told the clerk at the Thrift Center, 1346 W. Main St., that he had a gun and to put money from the cash register into a bag.

The man fled from the store with an undetermined amount of cash and has not been arrested.

Police also are investigated an unrelated robbery attempt Sunday morning in which two people received minor injuries when they were assaulted by the robber.

In the thrift store incident, a black male adult, about 25 to 30 years of age, is suspected. He was wearing a black beanie, a black shirt covered by a second, lighter black shirt, dark jeans and black and white tennis shoes.

Higdon said the robber entered the store at 3:23 p.m. and walked around the counter.

No firearm was actually seen and no injuries were reported, Sgt. Chris Goodwin said.

Two witnesses from inside the store attempted to follow the man, but lost sight of him near West 18th Street and Bear Creek. Responding officers checked the area, but were unable to locate the suspect, Higdon said.

Police detectives are asking anyone with any information regarding this incident to contact the department at the Tipster Line, 385-4725, or Sgt. Scott Skinner at 385-4702.

In the earlier robbery, Ralph Clinton Evans, 70, of Hayward, and Josephine Prevatt, 64, of Merced, were hurt when they were confronted Sunday at 8:33 a.m. by the robber at 335 E. 23rd St.

Higdon said Evans told Officer Salvador Mejia he was standing outside a work shed on the property when someone approached him from behind. The man started a conversation with Evans, who then turned around again.

When he did so, Higdon said, the man struck him on the head with a crowbar. The suspect then pushed Evans down to the ground into the shed and tied him up. During this time, he kept saying, "Where's the bag? Where's the money?"

As this was occurring, Prevatt, a resident of a nearby apartment complex, came out to the shed, and screamed when she saw the assault.

The robber tried to stop Prevatt from screaming by covering her face and mouth. She was able to fight back by kicking, biting and scratching, and the man fled from the scene.

As he did so, he jumped into Evans' pickup truck and drove eastbound on East 23rd Street. He continued to the end of the street, where he attempted to drive through the yard, hitting a fence and a shed, disabling the truck. He then fled from that area and Evans' pickup was recovered, Higdon said.

Evans was transported to the Community Campus of Mercy Medical Center Merced for treatment of injuries to his head. Prevatt was also treated for minor injuries.

The robber is described as a white male adult, in his early 20s, approximately 5 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with black hair and dark-colored eyes. He was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved sweater, dark jeans, black knit cap, and white tennis shoes.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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