Crimetracker: Police investigating several robberies at delis and sandwhich shops

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Vic & Bill's Deli in North Knoxville was held up Sunday afternoon by robbers still on the loose.

"Well, any time you have an armed robbery - that's a scary thing when you have them - anywhere that happens, it's definitely something to be concerned about, it's pretty scary," said Bill Fisher, who owns Fisher Tire Co. across the street.

Fisher Tire has surveillance video of the suspects running into the deli. Once inside, they robbed several customers of their wallets and cell phones, and also made off with cash from the shop.

"In the middle of the day, that's pretty bold to do," said Fisher.

The day after Christmas, two armed gunmen burst into the Subway on Chapman Highway, robbing the store and several customers inside. On Dec. 23, Lenny's Sub Shop in West Knoxville and Nixon's Deli in North Knoxville were hit. Pizza Hut on the North Side was robbed the night before.

"Small businesses, they work really hard and having someone come in and just take your money - it's tough. I hate hearing it," said Tim Smith, who owns Express Yourself Screen Printing and Embroidery next to Vic & Bill's Deli.

Smith said he's eaten at Vic & Bill's Deli before, and could have been one of the customers robbed.

"It could happen to anybody, There's no assurances of safety. You just have to hand them the money and not get yourself into any trouble," he said.

"You could get a carry permit, but you know, all kinds of bad things can happen from that, too. You know, something like that happens and they've got guns and it could get ugly really quick. And there could be multiple fatalities - bad guys and good people," said Greg Bridges, another deli customer.

According to officers, if you're ever in a similar situation, the best course of action would be to do whatever the suspects are demanding. They said you can always replace your phone and wallet, but not your life.

There's no word yet if any of these robberies are connected.

Police said they've found some of the things taken from customers at the deli and are in the process of returning them to their rightful owners.

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