Crime Stoppers IDs people of interest in dollar store robberies

The Dollar General store located at 3121 East State Blvd. in Fort Wayne.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The executive director of Crime Stoppers said Tuesday he suspects the same two men are responsible for most of the dollar store robberies in the area.

Greg Lewis, who heads up the tip-taking Crime Stoppers service, said two men have been identified as suspects in the rash of armed robberies of discount stores citywide this year, and at least one is in police custody – though for reasons not connected to the robberies.

Lewis said Tuesday that while the men have been named as suspects, police cannot yet charge them because they were wearing masks during the hold-ups and no identification was made. Lewis said the men have likely been working together since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve got all the information in the world as to who they are, where they live, what they’re doing, who their girlfriends are, the cars that they’re driving, but the point is, we still have the one hurdle and that’s a positive identification and we can’t do it right now, just can’t, we don’t have enough,” said Lewis.

It’s not clear, though, how police were able to identify the men then.

Lewis said one of the men is in police custody after carrying a handgun gun without a license and resisting law enforcement in an unrelated incident. The other man is free, Lewis said.

City discount stores have been the target of robbers often this year. 16 dollar stores have been robbed this year, Lewis said.

The Dollar General on East Tillman Road was held up at gunpoint around 10 p.m. Monday. According to investigators, a man armed with a handgun entered the store and was able to get away with an undisclosed amount of cash. Officers canvassed the area and a K-9 officer attempted to track the suspect but weren’t successful.

No arrests have been made in Monday night’s robbery. Police are looking for a black man, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a stocky build.

Lewis said he does not believe the two suspects – or at least the free one – were behind Monday night’s hold-up, though he did say the method of the robbery is similar, with suspects waiting for employees to either enter or leave the store.

“There’s a good possibility about a block and a half away is someone who’s been doing this a long time and instructing this guy how to do it,” said Lewis.

A spokesperson for Dollar General said the company doesn’t want to discuss procedures because of security reasons. However, he mentioned that many stores, including theirs started using GPS trackers in the cash and money bags to help catch the people responsible.

Garry Hamilton, Police Chief for the Fort Wayne Police Department said that more needs to be done on the department’s end. He didn’t go into detail, but said his department is working together to accomplish that.

A previously published version of this story included names and photos of the men Crime Stoppers believe may be responsible for the robberies.

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