Masked men rob Kearny Mesa convenience store

SAN DIEGO -- A Kearny Mesa AM/PM convenience store was held up early Tuesday morning under circumstances nearly identical to those of a Monday morning robbery at an AM/PM less than three miles away in Clairemont, police said.

Two masked suspects, one of them brandishing a handgun, entered the store at the ARCO gas station at 8820 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. around 1:45 a.m. and demanded money from the employee, San Diego police Sgt. Ed Zwibel said. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash.

The armed suspect wore a red bandana over his face. After the employee turned over the money, both men fled in a vehicle, Zwibel said.

The Monday morning robbery happened a little before 4:30 a.m. at the ARCO AM/PM on Balboa and Mt. Abernathy avenues, and a getaway car believed to have been used by the suspects was found on fire about 10 minutes later in Linda Vista.

A San Diego Police Department watch commander did not know whether robbery detectives suspect the heists are related, but there were several similarities, including the proximity of the holdups.

Both robberies occurred in the early morning, both targeted 24-hour ARCO AM/PM stores within three miles of each other and both were carried out by two robbers -- one armed, the other apparently unarmed. And in each incident, one of the suspects wore a red bandana.

Police and dispatchers described one suspect from Monday's robbery as a roughly 5-foot-8-inch, 200-pound Hispanic man wearing all black clothing and a red bandana over his face. The second suspect was described as a "slightly smaller" man wearing all black clothing with a black bandana over his face. One of the suspects also wore a black baseball cap with "DRTY" in white lettering across the front.

Detectives from the San Diego Police Department's robbery unit were investigating both heists.