Waffle House robbery count hits 18

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STONE MOUNTAIN -- Authorities say the number of Atlanta-area Waffle House robberies in the past two weeks hit 18 on Friday morning, the latest being a stick-up at a Stone Mountain eatery where the gunmen fled without cash.

About 5 a.m. Friday, an employee at a Waffle House at U.S. 78 and Rockbridge Road was outside on break when a man with a shirt tied around his face approached, cocked a handgun and said, "You better run before I kill you," according to a Gwinnett police report.

The employee ran inside and informed a co-worker of the situation. Both fled out the back door and climbed a ladder to the building's roof. Surveillance video shows the robber and another black male enter the restaurant, try to open a register and then flee with only a laptop belonging to an employee, the report states.

Gwinnett police are investigating whether the pair are the suspected serial robbers who've struck restaurants in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Henry and Clayton counties along with the cities of Doraville and Norcross. The robbery spree also includes cases in Auburn, Ala. and LaGrange, Ga., the Associated Press reported.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said the Friday robbery marks the second in county police jurisdiction in the past couple weeks. Those two robberies do not appear related, he said.

Authorities say the suspects tend to strike between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., typically the slowest times at the restaurants, when they will place a to-go order. They brandish a gun when the cash register is opened, No injuries have been reported.

One of the first robberies targeted a Norcross Waffle House at 5122 Brookhollow Parkway on July 31, police said.

In Friday's incident, the suspects may have left behind clues.

Police lifted possible prints left by the suspects from a glass door, along with an empty pack of cigarettes on the ground outside, the report states.

Police advise to call 911 if the suspects are spotted. Tips can be left at the Norcross police tip line, 770-448-6457, or with Gwinnett County police at 770-513-5000.