ELKHART — Police arrested a third suspect connected to a series of robberies on the north side of Elkhart this month, but businesses in the area are also trying to tighten their safety measures to protect employees and customers.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Elkhart Police Department arrested Jacob Estep, 23, of Elkhart, in connection to a robbery that happened at Days Inn at 2820 Cassopolis St. earlier that morning.
Witnesses told police a man had entered the office at the hotel sometime before 4 a.m. and demanded money. He took about $100 before leaving. No one was injured during the robbery.
A witness ran after Estep until police arrived at the scene. Estep was found at Red Roof Inn, which is adjacent to Days Inn.
After his arrest, Estep made admissions that connected him to several robberies within the area.
Earlier in the month, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department arrested two people, Nicholas Chaplin and Abigail Pifer, in connections to two robberies on the north side of the city. On Feb. 1. Chaplin and Pifer were arrested in connection to two robberies at Low Bob’s Discount Tobacco and Elkhart Cigarette Outlet on Cassopolis Street on Jan. 25.
Chaplin and Pifer have been charged with robbery while armed with a deadly weapon, a Class B felony. Estep was booked at the Elkhart County Jail, where he remains without a bond. Formal charges have not been filed against Estep.
Police continue to investigate the cases, but they won’t say whether Estep had any links with Pifer or Chaplin. Police are looking for other possible suspects involved.
Several businesses on the north side of Elkhart were targets of robberies late January and in February.
Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 4, two tobacco stores, two gas stations and a hotel on the north side of Elkhart were robbed. They are:
Elkhart Cigarette Outlet at 51505 S.R. 19 on Jan. 25
Low Bob’s Discount Tobacco at 51423 S.R. 19 on Jan. 25
Marathon gas station at 51451 S.R. 19 on Jan. 29
Hampton Inn at 215 North Pointe Blvd. on Feb. 1
Low Bob’s Discount Tobacco at 51423 S.R. 19 on Feb. 3
Phillips 66 gas station at 3320 Cassopolis St. on Feb. 4
Kristy Dolister, an employee at Days Inn, said she just started working at the hotel this week. She heard about the robbery that happened early Thursday morning, and when as she came in to work she saw police officers working around the building.
“I’m a little overwhelmed by what I heard, but I’m not really scared. You can get robbed anywhere,” she said.
Dolister said the hotel has alarms and surveillance cameras that can help stop a robbery or assist police if a robbery happened.
But an employee at another business that was a target of a robbery this month said it’s alarming to see all the recent incidents in the area.
She said the business she works for is taking tighter measures to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
“It’s scary,” she said, adding about the robbery, “The doors were unlocked so they just came in, carrying guns. In the years we have been here this had never happened to us.”