HERCULES -- Two robbers who stole cash and liquor from businesses in El Sobrante and Tara Hills on Wednesday night started their evening with a mugging in Hercules, police said Friday.
The Contra Costa Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday that investigators see similarities between the robberies in the unincorporated part of western Contra Costa County and the one in Hercules, where the owner of a cellphone business tried to ward off an armed mugger and wound up punched and pistol-whipped.
The 28-year-old victim left his store at the Creekside Shopping Center on Sycamore Avenue about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday.
He met a man with a revolver as he opened the door of his car, Hercules Detective Alex Abetkov said.
"The victim attempted to push the gun away, and he was physically assaulted by a second suspect," who punched the back of his head, Abetkov said. "And then he was pistol-whipped by the first suspect."
The victim threw a substantial amount of cash -- about $8,000 -- over the roof of his car and ran.
"As he turned and ran, he heard two metallic clicks that sounded like the hammer of a gun," Abetkov said.
The victim last saw the robbers scooping up the cash and running away. Police searched with dogs but did not find them.
Based on the description of the robbers, the timing of events and their aggressiveness, sheriff's investigators believe the same men robbed the Food Stop in the 3800 block of San Pablo Dam
In that case, two robbers held up the store and stole cash from the register, along with liquor.
As deputies drove to investigate, a 911 caller reported another robbery at the Nation's Giant Hamburgers stand in the 16300 block of San Pablo Avenue, part of the unincorporated Tara Hills neighborhood.
In that case, the men took cash from the register, and one also punched a worker.
The Hercules Police Department asks anyone with information to call Detective Robert Pesmark at 510-799-8223. The Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information to call 925-313-2600.