ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Six recent robberies in Ohio and Belmont counties are believed to have been the work of a one prolific criminal. But, the suspect's patterns are becoming known.
A robbery was attempted at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hilltop Marathon near St. Clairsville on National Road. The suspect managed to flee the scene, but he is believed to be the same man responsible for similar robberies in recent months in Bridgeport and Dallas Pike.
Belmont County Chief Deputy Joseph Hummel said the description of the man who attempted to rob that St. Clairsville business matched the description of the suspect in the prior robberies. The black Chevrolet Cobalt used Tuesday is the same type of vehicle used in those other robberies as well, the chief said.
Hummel noted that all of those robberies occurred on Tuesday. Each took place early in the month. Hummel said, with that information, law enforcement in Belmont and Ohio counties can be on the lookout for the suspect and that vehicle. Business owners can be on the lookout as well, the chief said.
The shattered remains of a Chevrolet Cobalt window were found in the Hilltop Marathon parking lot when deputies responded to the Tuesday evening robbery attempt. Hummel said the suspect entered the business and demanded money. He gestured that he had a gun, and he told business owner Naji T. Abboud that the situation was "real," and "it's not a joke."
Hummel said Abboud would not comply with the robber's order. The business owner followed the suspect to the parking lot, and smashed the window with a baseball bat as the car was driven from the scene. Abboud jumped into his own vehicle and attempted to follow the suspect east on National Road. He couldn't track down the suspect, and returned to the business to call the sheriff's department.
Hummel said investigators hope employees of body shops and auto glass specialists alert authorities if a black, Chevrolet Cobalt is brought in for work. Hummel said investigators are asking area residents to contact authorities if they see a Cobalt with a missing window or missing window that's been covered.
The suspect is a white male, about 5 feet 7 inches tall. The man weighs between 180 and 200 pounds. Those with any information are asked to call the Belmont County Sheriff's Department at 740-695-7933.