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Police: Victims reticent in robberies

NORCROSS -- Somebody is habitually robbing residents at an apartment complex near Norcross, and they're getting away with it because victims are reticent to work with investigators, police said Friday.

Police have recorded nine robberies since late August at the Huntington Village Apartments near the intersection of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Forest Vale Drive. Numerous other robberies have gone unreported, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter.

Ritter said all victims have been Hispanic, a demographic that's traditionally been distrustful of police in the Norcross area. No injuries have been reported.

A Gwinnett police robbery unit "desperately wants to get the people responsible for the robberies in custody" before more stick-ups happen or someone is injured, Ritter said.

Authorities say Hispanics are popular prey for armed robbers because they're known to carry cash and are reluctant to call police.

Most illegal immigrants lack the necessary paperwork to open bank accounts and therefore stow cash away in their pockets or at home. They fear deportation should they call for assistance, police have said.

Ritter stressed that Gwinnett police are interested only in solving the cases and have no legal authority to enforce the fast-track deportation program known as 287(g).

"So please don't be afraid to come forward with information out fear of being deported," he said.

Undercover officers with Gwinnett police arrested three Hispanic men for allegedly trying to rob them in the same general area recently. Ritter said that case does not appear related to rash of robberies.

Police urge anyone with information to call robbery unit detectives at 770-513-5300, or the robbery tip line at 770-513-6009. Anonymous calls are welcome.