GREENWOOD, Ind. — Greenwood police arrested a hotel clerk and another man on suspicion of staging a fake robbery as part of a scheme to split more than $1,300 in cash.
Greenwood police responded to a 911 call about a robbery in progress around 4:45 a.m. at the Red Roof Inn, located near the Main Street exit of I-65. Witnesses told officers that a man wearing a mask had run across the hotel parking lot to confront the desk clerk, who was taking out the trash.
“He was yelling give me your money, give me your money,” said hotel guest Terry Alden. “I’ve never witnessed a robbery, and it was kind of frightening.”
Terry and his wife Paula said they were standing outside the hotel as Terry was getting ready to leave for work.
“I was pretty scared,” Paula Alden said. “My stomach was pretty upset. I was more concerned about my daughter who was still in the room.”
The Aldens told police they saw the masked man force the desk clerk back inside the building before running back outside several minutes later. Then, they went inside to check on the desk clerk.
“We asked if the gentleman had a weapon, and he said he did feel something pressed into his back,” Terry Alden said.
The desk clerk, 24-year old Jason Albin, told police the robber had pushed him down, hitting his head on the floor. He said the suspect forced him into the hotel office where the suspect took money out of the cash drawer and the money Albin had just prepared for his cash drop.
The hotel owner told police that $1,376.78 was missing from the hotel.
A short time later, a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy spotted and detained 26-year old Jeffrey Rynard walking in the 500 block of Paradise Way West. When police questioned Rynard, he said the desk clerk, Jason Albin, was his friend. He said Albin had called him and said he could come fake a robbery at the hotel and the two men could split the money. He said Albin had told him there was more than $1,300 at the hotel. Rynard said he had parked his car at Albin’s apartment on Nicole Drive and walked to the Red Roof Inn from there.
Rynard then showed police his phone log, which revealed two calls from Jason Albin shortly before the alleged robbery. Police say Rynard was carrying an envelope containing $1,376.78.
Officers at the hotel questioned Albin about Rynard’s claims. They say Albin admitted to being friends with Rynard, but denied planning a fake robbery. He stated that he had called Rynard that morning to ask about a video game, but he had deleted the calls from his phone.
“Sometimes you get to a scene and, it’s just too perfect,” said Greenwood Police Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth.
Fillenwarth said Albin’s denial did not hold up under the timing and circumstances of the situation. He noted that the alleged robbery took place just as Albin had prepared the cash for a drop, and Rynard had confronted Albin just as Albin was taking out the trash.
“These guys, if they’re thinking about a career in crime, they might want to reconsider it,” Fillenwarth said. “Because right now, they’re not real good at it.”
Jason Albin was arrested and booked on preliminary charges of Theft and False Informing. Jeffrey Rynard was booked on a charge of Theft.
Hours after their shocking experience, the Aldens learned that the robbery they had witnessed was an alleged hoax.
“I was angry,” Paula Alden said. “I wanted to know what was wrong with our young people.”
“You get people upset and concerned for their safety over nothing, over a fake,” Terry Alden said.
Fillenwarth added that this kind of scheme creates a real risk of danger because you never know how a witness who may feel threatened may race.
“The quote, unquote, suspect in that could have very easily been shot and killed by a citizen,” Fillenwarth said.