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Waffle House robbers needed ‘tuition money'

By Ed Brock

One of two gunmen who robbed a Waffle House at gunpoint said he was doing it to get tuition money.

Clayton County police haven't found the men who entered the Waffle House diner at 6350 Tara Boulevard around 3:45 a.m. Oct. 20, but they continue to urge people working the night shift to be careful.

“If someone enters an establishment who looks suspicious and hangs around without buying something or requesting service, call the police,” Clayton County Assistant Police Chief Jeff Turner said. “That's the purpose of us being out there, to make sure everybody's safe. We prefer them to call and it to end up being nothing than they not call and they end up getting robbed.”

Two employees were in the restaurant when the two men walked in the front door, locking it behind them, according to a Clayton County police report. They forced the two employees into a back room and made them lie on the floor.

At that point one of the men told a female employee that he just needed the money for tuition and that she would not be hurt if she cooperated.

The men brought a hammer and prying tool with them to pry open two safes that were in the restaurant, according to the police report. They took more than $2,000 in cash from the safes, another $323 from the registers and $40 from one of the employees.

They also took the employees' drivers licenses and the second employee's cell phone.

Waffle House, a 24-hour business, takes several precautions to limit the likelihood of robbery, Division Manager Brett Garland said. On weekends they have a security guard patrolling nearby and they try to make frequent money drops so that there is never much cash in the safes.

The latter step clearly hadn't been taken at the time of this robbery, but Garland said he thinks the robbers just got lucky.

“I don't think they knew anything,” Garland said.

Waffle House also tells its employees not to try to be heroes, to let the robbers take the money. In the end there is not much that can be done to prevent robberies, only to mitigate the loss, he said.

“The truth is if they want to rob you they're going to rob you,” Garland said.

The robbers in this case were described as black males standing around 5-feet 7-inches tall and weighing about 165 pounds. They were gray hooded sweatshirts and covered their faces with black cloth. During the robbery they spoke to each other in Spanish.