Police: Man Used Pepper Spray in String of Massage Parlor Robberies

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Massage parlors usually help customers ease pain and relieve their stress; but lately, it's the employees who are feeling uneasy in parts of Stanislaus County.

"They're absolutely scared," said Greg Brand, owner of Salida Auto Repair.

Brand says the women who work next door have been on edge

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department says on December 30 a man knocked on the door of Salida Massage, asked for money, sprayed and employee in the face with pepper spray, then forced his way in and sprayed a second employee.

Employees tell FOX40 he took a purse and a laptop from them, but he left a big clue behind: an image of his face on security cameras inside.

It doesn't stop in Salida.

Police say there have been 10 robberies at massage parlors in the county since December 8.  In one robbery, the suspect was armed with a gun but in the rest, he was armed with pepper spray.

"Going in spraying the employees immediately when he enters the business, and then grabs personal items from the employees and any cash that may be available," said Modesto Police spokesperson Heather Graves.

Graves says the most recent robbery was Tuesday.  Police believe the same suspect is behind all 10 cases.

"Its not only the MO that's similar, but it's also the descriptions that the victims are giving," said Graves.

The Salida robbery is the only one where the suspect was captured on camera.

He's described as a Hispanic or white male, in his mid 20s, about 150 pounds, with a mustache or goatee.