CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating a rash of robberies at local fast food restaurants in Charlotte.
Police say there have been four times as many robberies in Charlotte than the previous year.
Five commercial robberies were reported between December 2012-February 2013, compared to 20 robberies between December 2013-February 2014.
Fast food establishments are being targeted in the early morning hours or late in the evening.
"Monique," who works at a restaurant recently held up, believes fast food restaurants have become easy targets for thieves.
"I think they see it as a quick way to make money and they know that if they come with their faces covered that we only have certain limits to what we can do," she said.
Police say 3-4 victims were involved in every incident, most were employees. Police say typically, two masked gunmen would enter the store and force employees to the ground at gunpoint.
The suspects would demand cash from the registers and the safe. In several instances, they would steal items belonging to employees.
"Monique" says, her co-workers are afraid to return to work.
"They basically left, they didn't want to be here anymore. When you think back that you might not have made it, it traumatizes you. The suspects don't think about what is going to happen to us, they just want that quick dollar, and they don't care about us at all," she added.
Police are urging local business owners to review and make necessary security improvements.
"Monique" hopes the company she works for adds extra cameras and staff the evening and morning shifts with more workers.
Here is a list of targeted located in the last two weeks:
1/20 Wendy’s 3524 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd. 10:23AM
1/29 Wendy’s 4426 S. Tryon Street 8:30 p.m.
2/01 Wendy’s 3300 Freedom Drive 10:00 a.m.
2/01 Taco Bell 3117 Freedom Drive 10:10 a.m.
2/01 Wendy’s 6018 Independence Boulevard 10:10 a.m.
2/02 Pizza Hut 901 S. Kings Drive 7:55 p.m.
2/03 Hardee’s 5024 Sunset Rd 5:34 a.m.
Jeremy Ross works next door to the Hardee's Restaurant that had been recently robbed.
He says when he worked at fast food restaurants, he did so, knowing there were risks involved.
He works at a convenient store now and says, employees are given specific instructions to "cooperate" and be observant.
"By company policy, we are ordered to call police, give description of the guy, and if I can get the license plate, give them the license plate information too."
He believes fast food restaurants are targeted because of their visibility from the outside, and limited staff at certain hours.
"They don't really care about cameras, if they see nobody is in there, they're more of a target for them," he said.
Some businesses are planning to add additional cameras and reinforce locks in light of the robberies.
Police are also urging customers who frequent these establishments to be extra vigilant.