PORTAGE | Tips from the public, along with a good vehicle description from surveillance video led to the arrest Friday of a suspect in three armed robberies in Portage in the last week.
William Evans, 26, who has previous addresses in Lake Station and South Haven, will be charged with three counts of robbery, maintaining a common nuisance, possession of heroin and possession of hypodermic needles, police said.
Natacha Hurley, 26, of South Haven, who is Evans' girlfriend, was also arrested Friday, police said. She faces charges of visiting a common nuisance, possession of heroin and possession of hypodermic needles.
Police said Evans was responsible for the armed robberies at 3 a.m. Wednesday at Speedway, 5011 Central Ave.; at 4:48 a.m. Friday at Zip Foods, 5757 U.S. 20; and at 5:29 a.m. Friday at the Comfort Inn, 2300 Willowcreek Road.
Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said Saturday surveillance video captured at the Comfort Inn gave police a good vehicle description — a silver station wagon — that was the key to making the arrests.
Williams said an officer spotted the car leaving a fast-food restaurant in the city about 4 p.m. Friday. A reserve officer then spotted the car along U.S. 20 at Woodland Village, where the car was stopped.
Williams said a BB gun in the car, which looked like an actual gun, matched the gun described by victims.
Witnesses told police the robber was wearing overalls, a hoodie, stocking cap and a mask or scarf to cover the lower portion of his face.
Officers also found clothing that matched the description of the robber, and cigarettes that were taken during two of the robberies.
Williams said there were eight bags of heroin found in the car and numerous empty bags.
Williams said Evans' name was among many tips received by the department.
"Our detectives worked relentlessly to bring this suspect to justice," Williams said.
Friday's arrest was not the first time the couple had been arrested in Portage.
On Nov. 1, 2012, Evans and Hurley were arrested at Kohl’s department store and accused of trying to shoplift hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise, police said.
A loss prevention employee told police Evans went into a dressing room with items and came out with none. He is accused of taking clothing, cologne, rings and watches. He was arrested outside the store by Portage police.
Hurley, who also was arrested, told police she had come to the store with enough money to buy shoes for her son, but when she got to the store she decided she wanted some items for herself. She told police she removed tags from items or removed items from their packages and concealed them in her purse.
She is accused of taking underwear, shoes and perfume.
Both were arrested on felony theft charges.