LAKE PLACID - The number of robberies against Hispanics, many of them migrant workers, is increasing in Highlands County, and now Lake Placid police is also investigating a few complaints.
Since December, at least 10 such robberies were reported in Avon Park and Lake Placid.
In the latest cases, the Lake Placid Police Department is investigating four robberies. That comes not long after the Highlands County Sheriff's Office arrested two men, who they say robbed an undercover deputy posing as a migrant worker. The sheriff's office did the sting operation after getting reports of four robberies involving migrant workers.
So far, those suspects have not been charged in connection with the four other robberies, which were reported in Avon Park.
Last month, the sheriff's office also arrested seven people following a home invasion robbery in Sun 'N Lakes in Lake Placid. The victims reported the suspects broke into the home and robbed them, and in some cases, attacked them, as well.
Another case in Sun 'N Lakes in Lake Placid on Jan. 5 involved a Hispanic male, who was robbed by two men as he walked along St. Lucie Street, said Nell Hays, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Detectives are looking for a small red car that was in the area at the time of the robbery, Hays said.
Anyone with information on that robbery should call Highlands County Detective Bret Hinkle at (863) 381-0669 or (863) 402-7252. They can also call Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-8477.
Lake Placid Police Chief James Fansler said he couldn't speculate whether the robbers in that case are the same as the two in the Lake Placid crimes.
On Jan. 10, two males wearing masks approached two Hispanic males and demanded money.
"One of the suspects was reportedly carrying a firearm and struck one of the victims during the robbery," Fansler said in a news release. "The victim was treated at the scene for minor injuries."
Another victim reported that he was also robbed in that vicinity by two men who demanded money, Fansler said.
The next day, two Hispanic males reported that a red car pulled up to them and that one male left the vehicle, pointed a gun at them and demanded money, Fansler said. That robbery occurred near Poinsettia and Magnolia streets.
On Jan. 12, a Hispanic male reported that two men chased him, but never actually robbed him. He said one of them hit him, the report said.
Anyone with information should contact the Lake Placid Police Department at (863) 699-3757 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who wish to be anonymous can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800 226-8477 or go to www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.