Man with fake beard possibly robbing, attempting to rob many businesses near Cleveland

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CUYAHOGA CO.--A bearded bandit is on the loose in Northeast Ohio, and he is caught on video and surveillance video at several businesses.

Over the past few months, a man, dressed in what appears to be the same clothes in each situation, has robbed or attempted to rob establishments.

Police from Cleveland, Maple Heights, even Parma have sent Fox 8 pictures of this suspect.

Many times the man in the pictures has been described by witnesses as wearing the beard as a disguise.

Surveillance video from the Tremont Convenience Foodmart on West 14th shows the suspect walking into the store, then quickly reaching for a gun.  As the store clerk runs, so does the man, right out the door.  The clerk tells Fox 8 the whole incident took only seconds.

The clerk did not want to go on camera, Saturday, about the March incident.  However, he did say the suspect had a fake beard and did not take off with any money.

Cleveland Police said just two hours later that day the suspect tried again at the Shell Gas Station at Ridge and Memphis Ave.

The crimes sound very similar to Dawn Defranco, an employee at Mr. Hero on State Rd. in Parma.

"He looked scary, you could tell his beard was fake, and the way he dressed and stuff you could just tell," she said.

"I was back here talking and he came in and he had his back turned at us and you see him pulling out the gun."

Defranco's store was robbed in December of 2014, according to police.

The pictures sent to Fox 8 by authorities appear very similar to ones sent by Maple Heights police, regarding another March robbery at the Speedway gas station on Rockside Rd.

No matter who is behind the beard, Defranco tells Fox 8 she hopes for justice.  Police agencies have not said if all of the robberies are connected, despite similarities between the pictures and video.

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