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Stakes high for Subway robbers

State sentencing law guarantees at least 7&

189; years in prison

Police say two men who robbed a Medford sandwich shop at gunpoint Sunday night are the latest thieves to risk long jail sentences for a light reward.

The robbers, who were still being sought Monday, made off with less than &

36;150 from the Subway store at 1550 Biddle Road. If caught, however, they would face 7&

189; years or more in prison under Oregon crime laws that make some robbery convictions more serious than manslaughter.

Obviously, they're not using their heads, Medford police Lt. Mike Moran said Monday. The take is always going to be relatively small, but they're looking at some major prison time.

In Sunday's case, two men in their 20s walked into the Subway about 10:07 p.m. One pulled a black or dark-colored handgun from a paper bag and pointed at the stomach of the lone clerk ' a 24-year-old woman, police said.

The men forced the clerk into a back room, where she was ordered to lie face-down on the ground, Moran said. The robbers took cash from the register and fled, he said.

The clerk said she had seen one of the men earlier that day near the restaurant with a car believed to be a light-colored, newer mid-sized sedan.

The suspect with the gun was described as a white male, 20-25 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall with a slender build, short blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black ski jacket with large, shiny buttons.

The second suspect was also a white male, 20-25 years old, but he was about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build and dark, curly, collar-length hair.

Police were looking Monday for customers who may have seen one or more of the robbers, Moran said.

Confronting the clerk and pointing a weapon at her makes Sunday's crime first-degree robbery, on which a conviction carries a 90-month minimum sentence under Oregon's Measure 11 sentencing law. If the robbers have previous convictions, the prison time would increase.

If the men simply stole less than &

36;150 cash in Oregon, they would face a misdemeanor theft charge that could net no more than a few months in a county jail.

With those kinds of stakes, this was pointless, Moran said.

Robberies of small businesses seem to increase during the holidays, Moran said. The trend, however, likely has more to do with long periods of darkness and an expectation of registers teeming with cash than any need for thieves to buy better Christmas presents for their kids, Moran said.

I never believe a would-be criminal needs to commit a crime to fulfill a holiday dream, Moran said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail