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Apollo IGA robber likely hit other shops

Chuck Biedka
| Monday, April 4, 2005

APOLLO -- A man who robbed Oliver's IGA at gunpoint 14 months ago is likely the same man who has robbed a string of grocery stores in two states, police said.

They believe the man who struck at the IGA in Apollo at about 7:45 p.m. Jan. 21, 2004 robbed a grocery store in Delmont less than an hour before.

They believe the same very tall, thin man also has struck a grocery store in Uniontown at least once, and other markets in Star City, W.Va., and Weston, W.Va.

Police think the man is from the Delmont area. Delmont Chief T.J. Klobucar said he could not provide further specific information.

They say he has a girlfriend with ties to New Kensington and Jeannette that may have been a getaway driver in some of the cases.

Apollo Chief Robin Davis said the suspect in the Apollo market robbery was a "basketball tall" white man who wore a ski mask beneath a hooded sweatshirt when he walked inside the IGA at North City Plaza in January 2004.

Police said the man carried a silver, large-frame semi-automatic pistol.

Delmont police say that about 40 minutes earlier, a man wearing the same type of clothing and carrying the same type of pistol attempted to rob Fatur's Foodland.

The man didn't get money in Delmont, but he walked away with about $5,000 from Oliver's IGA, Davis said.

According to police reports, the man threatened the Apollo IGA clerks not to trigger alarms.

He demanded money in specific denominations and within minutes sped away in a newer-model pickup truck with a shot bed, possibly a gold or silver Chevrolet.

"He almost hit someone in Gulliford Alley," Davis said.

Police in Pennsylvania and West Virginia think the man sometimes had the help of an accomplice, who possibly drove.

Police see similarities not only in the suspect description but in the robberies.

They say the suspect may target grocery stores because of their similar layouts. In addition, not all local grocery stores have surveillance cameras, and cash is often kept closer to the front of the store, police said.

The stores have also been near interstate highways or other major roads.

Police are still waiting for the results of a DNA test to show if that suspect is the man who wore a hat that was dropped inside a Weston, W.Va., market in March 2004.

The Weston Foodland was robbed by a very tall, slender man who matches the description, according to Weston Police Chief Rob Clem. The store was hit at about 9 p.m., and he stole less than $5,000.

"A baseball cap thought to belong to him was found near the crime scene," he said. "We've been waiting a year for the report."

Star City, W.Va., Police Chief Leroy Forbes is aware of the investigations in to the other robberies but declined to elaborate.

"We're looking at the similarities that occurred in each one," he said.

Star City is just outside Morgantown, W.Va., near Interstate 79; Weston, W.Va. is about an hour south very close to the same road.

Two similar, unsolved robberies happened in Uniontown last year, said Police Chief Kyle Sneddon.

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