Saturday, March 23, 2002

Robbery called inside job

Clerk planned it with pal, police say

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — Police say two men faked an early-morning armed robbery of a convenience store where one is a clerk, then used an unusual stash for the cash: a plastic bread wrapper.

        “The dough was in a bread bag,” quipped Police Chief Ernest Howard.

        The chief commended his officers for following their instincts and being observant after a clerk called police to the AmeriStop on Ohio 63 near Cincinnati-Dayton Road at 3:15 a.m. Friday.

        “I think the guys did a tremendous job in spotting the fact that this was an inside job from the very beginning,” Chief Howard said.

        Their first whiff of something amiss: Although the employee reported he was just robbed at gunpoint, he was extremely calm, the chief said. And his description of the “gunman” changed while he was being questioned, officers noted.

        Officers called Detective Mike Staples, who also doubted the man's story, Chief Howard said.

        The clerk, Donald Wilkinson, 19, submitted to a voice-stress analysis test at the police station. “It showed deceit,” Chief Howard said.

        Then the suspect relented and told police where they could find his alleged accomplice and several thousand dollars they conspired to steal from the store, Chief Howard said.

        Officers went to the Monroe Terrace Apartments, adjacent to the store, where they found Robert Shropshire, 31. As police were preparing to take him to the station for questioning, a boot in a closet toppled over, spilling cash from inside; the money-filled bread wrapper was found stuffed in the crevice of a couch, Chief Howard said.

        Investigators also learned the store's surveillance video had been taken, he said.

        Mr. Wilkinson faces charges of breaking and entering, theft, tampering with evidence, felony false alarm and felony obstructing justice.

        Mr. Shropshire was being held on charges of breaking and entering, theft, tampering with evidence and safecracking.

        Held in the Butler County Jail, the men are expected to appear Monday in Butler County Area III Court.


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