Three men who robbed two vending machine delivery drivers this month are suspected of using part of their haul to commit a rash of follow-up thefts in Lexington.
Along with cash and other items, the robbers made off with a ring of keys to vending machines. Since then, hundreds of dollars, mostly in change, has been stolen from The Canteen Corp.'s vending machines, police said.
At least six machines have been hit since the drivers were robbed Oct. 8, including machines inside Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital and on Transylvania University's campus, Lexington police Sgt. Pete Ford said at a news conference Wednesday.
Police have not released other locations or the amount of money taken.
Police released surveillance images of the men who robbed the delivery drivers at Canteen's facility at 868 Nandino Boulevard, as well as images from the theft at Transylvania.
Canteen, which sells coffee, soda and packaged foods, issued a news release Wednesday asking anyone with information to call police. The company is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of three men who robbed two delivery drivers.
"The three men ... threatened the lives of our employees," the company said. "We feel certain there is someone out there who has information related to this crime."
Ford said police are trying to determine whether the Oct. 8 robbery is related to a similar incident last month. On Sept. 10 two men beat and sprayed pepper on a delivery driver of G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers as he was stocking a machine at the Best Western hotel at 5532 Athens-Boonesboro Road.
The men fled with money the driver had collected from vending machines, but keys were not stolen, Ford said.
He called the robbery of vending machine delivery drivers "a step away from the norm," adding that typical delivery robbery victims are pizza or fast-food drivers.
"We are looking at both sets of robberies and the thefts to see if all of these are related to each other," he said.