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Whiteland police investigate first armed robbery in 2 years

Data pix.

WHITELAND, Ind - Whiteland police are investigating the first armed robbery to happen in their town in more than two years.

The crime happened just after noon on Sunday at the Sunoco gas station located at 340 North U.S. 31. 

Surveillance video from inside the store shows a man wearing a dark hoodie and a white bandana over his face enter the store at 12:08 p.m.

“He approached the clerk, pointed a semi automatic pistol at him and demanded money from the register,” said Whiteland police Sgt. Derek Cox.

At one point in the video, the man can be seen setting the handgun down on the counter, inches from the clerk’s hands, in order to pick up a wad of money. In less than a minute, the robber was able to walk out of the store with roughly $200 cash, Cox said.  

It was the first armed robbery to happen in Whiteland since April 2017.

“It is quite unusual,” Cox said. “Especially given the time of day. People, families getting out of church and traffic on the highway.”

Officers say Whiteland police K9, Vader, was able to track the robber’s scent to a nearby neighborhood just off U.S. 31.  The trail ended in the driveway of a home, where investigators believe the man got into a car and took off.

Security image of an armed robbery at the Sunoco station off U.3. 31 in Whiteland on August 18, 2019.

“We looked through the house and there was nothing in the house that linked anybody or anything to the robbery,” Cox said. “We talked to people out mowing yards and doing yard work and such and nobody had seen anything.”

Although the man’s head and face were covered, police have taken note of the black hat he was wearing at the time of the robbery.  

“Seems to have some kind of a triangular logo on it of some type with silver or white writing across it,” Cox said. “Hoping that somebody recognizes that hat, be able to tell us, 'Oh, this [person] wears that hat all the time,' and that might lead us to our suspect in the case.”

Investigators have since learned that the silent panic alarm that is supposed to call police to the Sunoco station was not working at the time of the robbery.  However, the employee who was robbed at gunpoint didn’t know that when he pushed the panic alarm button.

“Obviously, it’s a concern,” Cox said. “They’re counting on that alarm to work.”

Another employee at the Sunoco station said the alarm was working a couple months ago. It’s not known why the panic alarm wasn’t functioning during the Sunday robbery. A message left for Sunoco’s Columbus-based owner has not been returned.

Whiteland police are working to develop leads in the case. Anyone with information can call the department at 317-535-8100.

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