Last year (2012) closed with a rash of robberies, and several more occurred in 2013.
It was just a year ago, on December 29, 2012, that the Kent Theatre was robbed during the 9 p.m. showing of a “Life of Pi.” Cedar Springs Police said that a man in a puffy gray jacket with a stocking cap pulled down over his face walked into the Kent Theatre about 10 p.m. and demanded money, while implying a weapon. He got an undisclosed amount of cash from the concession stand and grabbed the donation can before fleeing on foot. Dogs tracked the suspect to a house on First Street, and then back to the road, where they lost the scent. He has never been found.
The Kent Theatre robbery was the second in a string of robberies. The Admiral gas station had been robbed the week before, on December 22. The third robbery occurred on December 31, New Year’s Eve, at Family Video, at the corner of Main and Muskegon Streets, around 9:50 p.m. The man was described as having dark hair and dark clothing, about 30 years old. He walked around the store for about 20 minutes without a mask waiting for others to leave then pulled a stocking cap down over his face with eye holes cut out and approached the counter. He showed the clerks a 5 or 6-inch hunting knife and demanded money. He then walked away to the west, towards Second St. Dogs tracked him Second Street to Beech before losing the scent.
The robberies continued in 2014, with three more businesses being robbed: the Instant Cash Advance store on July 24, the Admiral gas station on August 17, and Rite Aid on Friday, September 13.
According to police, a tall black male entered the Instant Cash Advance Store at 151 S. Main Street and demanded money while showing a gun. After collecting the cash, he fled on foot. He was wearing a plastic mask, similar to one used in robberies in the city of Wyoming. Wyoming Police and the FBI subsequently arrested a man for bank robbery and robberies of other Cash Advance Stores, and they believe he may be tied to this one as well.
On August 17, a man entered the Admiral gas station about 12:40 a.m. with something in his hand and demanded money, and then fled on foot. A K-9 unit tracked him a short distance to the area of Beech and First Street, and then lost the scent. The suspect did not wear a mask or try to cover his face. He was described as a white male in his twenties, 5 feet 9 inches and around 190 pounds. He had side burns and a pierced tongue. He wore a navy blue baseball style cap, blue shirt, and black shorts with a white stripe down the side.
On September 13, a man walked into the Rite Aid on 17 Mile in Cedar Springs about 4 p.m. and robbed the store at gunpoint. According to the police dispatch, he reportedly told the clerk he had killed two people, and would kill another.
A witness was standing at the counter waiting for the clerk, and saw the two ladies standing with the suspect and putting something in a yellow bag. He thought they were helping a customer. He said that the suspect then ran out, and the clerk said they had been robbed.
The witness then ran out and told his adult son, who was waiting for him in the car. The son then chased after the suspect, who ran west to the back of Subway, then south behind the strip mall and into the woods. But the man lost him at that point. “I didn’t see which way he went when he got to the woods,” he explained.
Both the witness and his son were upset about the robbery. “If I’d known sooner what was happening, I would’ve hit him in the throat so hard,” remarked the witness, who was a former police officer and security guard.
Several other police agencies helped Cedar Springs Police in the search for the suspect. Roadblocks were set up on White Creek Avenue by the Kent County Sheriff Department, and a Michigan State Police canine unit was called in, but the dog lost the scent and the suspect was not captured.
According to a witness, the suspect was about 5-foot four-inches, with a dark (tanned) face, sunglasses, black hair or wig, black hoodie, and light-colored jeans. Possibly in his mid-twenties.
Anyone with information on any of these robberies is asked to call the Cedar Springs Police at 696-1311, or contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345. Silent Observer can be contacted confidentially by using the Report A Crime section on their website, which is www.silentobserver.org. Or, download their mobile app and send an anonymous tip right from your smartphone.