Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 25, 2012

Detectives say robbers bungled job

Armed robbery suspect left credit card behind in Greentown store heist

GREENTOWN — An almost unbelievable string of blunders led detectives to the four men police believe are responsible for the Sept. 10 armed robbery of a Greentown convenience store.

Howard County sheriff deputies served warrants on three Kokomo men and a Fairmount man Tuesday in connection with the robbery, but the case might have been solved two weeks ago.

Detectives said one of the suspects, Luke K. Spence, 22, provided the first big clue when Spence left a credit card at the crime scene.

According to a press statement issued by the sheriff department Tuesday, four assailants walked into the Smart Mart convenience store, 713 W. Main St., Greentown, around 5 a.m. on the 10th.

While they were robbing the store, three customers walked in, detectives said.

The robbers forced the customers and store clerk into the store office, took the store’s phone out of the office, and locked the customers and clerk inside, police said.

They didn’t however, take one customer’s cell phone. The customer quickly called 911, alerting police.

Investigators said clothing matching that worn by the suspects was also located by a resident along 700 East shortly after the robbery.

After executing a search warrant at Spence’s residence in the 700 block of West Sycamore Street, Kokomo, and searching Spence’s gray 2007 Chevy Malibu, police said they found evidence which led them to a trailer in the 2700 block of North Washington Street.

At the trailer, police arrested Christopher A. Taylor, 26, Gregory M. Riley, 25, and an individual not apparently connected with the robbery, Brandon Hahn, 22, Kokomo, who was arrested in a misdemeanor charge of carrying a handgun without a license.

Detectives said they located money, guns, clothing, and other property associated with the robbery during the search, as well as equipment associated with marijuana cultivation.  

Also located in the home was a “home video surveillance system,” investigators said. According to police, “examination of the system’s memory showed all four suspects preparing for and returning from the robbery.”

Three of the suspects — Spence, Gregory Riley II and Taylor — are each facing felony charges of robbery, criminal confinement and theft/receiving stolen property, as well as a misdemeanor charge of interference with reporting of a crime.

Investigators said Riley faces an additional charge of resisting law enforcement, because during the execution of the arrest warrant, “Riley failed to come out of a closet where he was hiding when ordered to by the deputies.”  

The other suspects were taken into custody without incident.   

The fourth suspect, Elliott V. Shoffner, 22, Fairmount, faces a felony charge of aiding, inducing or causing robbery, along with the other charges of criminal confinement, interfering with the reporting of a crime and theft/receiving stolen property.

Anyone with information concerning this case is asked to contact the Howard County Sheriff Department at 765-456-2031 ext. 247.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com

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