CLEARWATER, Fla. (January 2, 2020) — Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two of three men wanted in conjunction with a New Year’s Day armed robbery of a CVS store in the area of Clearwater that is unincorporated. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department said that a 19-year-old man from Lawrence, IN will face several criminal charges including false imprisonment, armed robbery, and drug trafficking. The other male deputies arrested is 19-years-of-age and is listed by deputies as homeless. He faces similar charges, according to the TB Reporter. The third suspect alleged to have participated in the robbery was not identified by law enforcement. 

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies, who investigated the armed robbery, described how the three men entered the CVS on U.S. 19 in Clearwater. The three men went into the store via the main entrance and confronted the three employees working at the time. One of the alleged robbers pointed a firearm at the pharmacist, hopped the counter, and ordered that person to open the safe containing opioid medication. The other two men brandished firearms at the two employees. The armed men bound the two employees and marched them to the pharmacy area. The men put the medicine in garbage bags and fled the area in a white car.

None of the employees of CVS sustained any injuries in the take-over style robbery. One of the employees called 911 and described the getaway car. Investigators reported they picked up the trail of the fleeing robbers by following medication bottles strewn about the road. The discarded bottles lead investigators to a home on West Avenue located in Clearwater. Police found the two men they arrested for the robbery in the home without further incident. The third person escaped. Police did not announce if they recovered the suspected firearms or any of the stolen pain killers.

Robbery in Florida

Robbery in Florida is a very serious crime. The courts take these cases very seriously because robbing someone jeopardizes the health and safety of that person. Any robbery, including unarmed robbery, is inherently dangerous. Therefore, the Florida legislature enacted §812.13 of the Florida Statutes to punish an offender guilty of committing an armed robbery with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, or unarmed robbery.

Under §812.13 of the Florida Statutes, a person who commits an armed robbery while carrying a firearm or another deadly weapon commits a life felony. The person convicted of this crime faces incarceration for any term of years up to life. A person who uses any other weapon to commit a robbery commits a first-degree felony that could be punished for any term of years up to thirty. However, if the perpetrator of the robbery was not armed at the time, then the maximum penalty is fifteen years in the state’s prison.

Robbery is the act of taking another’s property by force or the threat of force, the threat of assault or violence, or while possessing a firearm or some other weapon. The penalty depends on whether the individual used a weapon. Florida law established a potential sentencing enhancement that could force the judge to impose a 10-year sentence if the person only possessed a firearm, 20 years if the firearm went off and a minimum of 25 years if another died in the robbery.