STEELEVILLE — Police are still searching for two men who robbed Steeleville Liquors at gunpoint this past Thursday and fled toward Carbondale with about $10,000.
Paula Mathon, the owner of the business, said Thursdays are usually their busy days — it is payday at the Gilster-Mary Lee factory just a block away. It was about 11:30 a.m. Dec. 28 Mathon and another employee were ready to cash checks for customers when two men came in, one with a pistol.
“He just walked in and pointed a gun and said, ‘I’ll take the box,’” Mathon remembered. She said he took the cash box and the two men left. She said fear didn’t have a chance to take hold.
“Actually, I didn’t really have a chance to get scared,” she said.
“It was a pretty quick ordeal,” Steeleville Police Chief Jim Zeidler said Thursday. Zeidler said the suspects are two men, about 6 feet tall weighing about 200 to 230 pounds. One man was black, Zeidler said, but the other was wearing a mask and hood, so witnesses could not give a specific description.
Zeidler said according to witness accounts, the two men went out to a black SUV and took off toward Carbondale. One witness followed the men for a time and was able to provide a license plate number.
Zeidler said witnesses told the police the men made off with $10,000 — Mathon said they got the money from the bank that day to cover check cashing. They don’t usually keep that kind of cash around, she said.
The getaway vehicle was later found in Jackson County, Zeidler said, adding that it came up stolen — he said this investigation was being handled by Carbondale Police.
Carbondale Police Sgt. Amber Ronketto said Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies found the car and that Carbondale Police processed it for evidence. She said the investigation was ongoing and she had no further details on the case.
Zeidler said his team have persons of interest in the robbery, but he said no one has been brought in for questioning.
Mathon said she remembers not entirely understanding what happened until it was over.
“It was … kind of surreal,” she said of the experience of being robbed at gunpoint.
The store has insurance, but Mathon said she doesn't believe she’s covered for the money stolen.
Despite the hubbub, Mathon said she did stay open the rest of the day.
Mathon said she cashed checks as a service to her customers, but declined to say if the store was still going to be cashing checks in the future.
Mathon said she does exercise a bit more caution now when working the counter, but chalked up the robbery to the cost of doing business.
“I guess it’s just part of being a business owner,” Mathon said.