WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- Winston-Salem Police say there's been an increase in robberies at ATM machines -- it's happened four times in the last month and a half.

The first robbery happened on November 11 at the Bank of America on Silas Creek Parkway.

Surveillance photos show the suspect creeping up from behind a building.

Then he uses the backside of the ATM to hide as he approaches the target.

The suspect pointed a gun at the victim and demanded money and then took off running.

Police say the suspect used similar tactics in two other ATM robberies in Winston-Salem and one in Lewisville.

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Three out of the four robberies happened in broad daylight.

Nobody got hurt but Scot Ogle with the Winston-Salem Police Department says it's a scary reminder to always be alert.

"You're not going to be able to protect yourself 100% of the time,” said Ogle. “When that guy comes around the ATM machine like that, he's right on you. There's not much you can do at that point to stop it."

Police arrested Ernest Shermer in connection to the crimes.

Shermer is currently in custody and is facing three counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and charges are pending in the fourth case.

With more and more people out doing holiday shopping, Ogle says criminals have more opportunities to pick an easy target to attack.

"You want to look for anything out of the ordinary that kind of disturbs you or makes your senses go off. If the hair on the back of your neck is standing up, that's a natural instinct,” said Ogle. “Pay attention to that. There's something wrong with this picture so move on."

On Tuesday, police announced they arrested two people, including a 14 year old boy, in connection to an attack in the Hanes Mall parking lot last month.

Police say the boy knocked a woman down, dragged her across the ground, and stole her purse.

The woman used the victim's credit cards at various locations around the city.

WSPD wants people to remember the following tips to stay safe during the holiday season

  • Keep your doors locked at all times
  • Always be alert -- familiarize yourself with your surroundings
  • Pay attention to your instincts -- if you see something suspicious, don't hesitate to call 911

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