Shelby del Vecchio file photo
Bert's Market on Folly Beach is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bert's Market, the Folly Beach landmark that never closes, was the scene of an armed robbery early Friday morning.
According to the Folly Beach Department of Public Safety, police responded to reports of a shot fired around 5:40 a.m. The clerk on duty at the time told police that two men entered the market wearing plastic grocery bags to cover their faces. One shot was fired into the ceiling of the store. No one was injured.
The two men are described as black males, one well over 6 feet tall, the other shorter. Both are of average build.
Omar Colon, co-owner of Bert’s, says that the taller man, who was in possession of a pistol, began demanding money from the clerk. Apparently not receiving a speedy enough response from the employee, the gunman fired a shot into the ceiling. Colon says it was at this point that the shorter man stepped around the counter, while the taller man remained at the register with his weapon pointed at the clerk. The two men then proceeded to empty the register, with the taller man reaching across counter and grabbing money with his free hand, while his accomplice stood next to register placing cash into a plastic bag.
“They then both ran out of the store towards the beach and out of view of our cameras, thankfully leaving our employee unharmed, besides the trauma of the experience,” says Colon.
Alan Kleinfeld, spokesman for Folly Beach Public Safety, said just under $200 was taken from the store.
As the suspects fled the scene, a witness contacted police to report a Kia SUV leaving the island at a high rate of speed. Using recently installed license plate cameras located near Crosby's Fish and Shrimp on Folly Road, police were able to identify the vehicle.
As for Bert’s Market, the 24-7 destination for beachgoers and locals alike remained opened Friday morning in spite of the early morning robbery that left a round from what was described as a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in the ceiling. Customers braved the heavy rains to grab a free cup of coffee to start the day, while investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the store.
According to Kleinfeld, criminal activity such as this is unusual for Folly Beach and the last reported armed robbery on the island dates back to 2015.
“In total, they were in the store for just a little over a minute. Folly Beach Public Safety and Charleston County processed the scene this morning and are actively following leads,” says Colon.