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Police: Men dressed as women, robbed store at Southlake mall

Security footage from Southlake Mall. 

Editor's note: Charges against Andre D. Johnson, 39, were dismissed Sept. 14 after he was inadvertently charged because of distinct similarities between him and his son, Hobart police said. Andre D. Johnson Jr., 20, was charged Sept. 14 in connection with this robbery.

HOBART — Two men dressed in women's clothing fought with security officers and escaped last month during a robbery at a department store at Southlake Mall, police said.

Andre D. Johnson, 39, and Darius A. Sims Jr., 22, each face two felony counts of robbery resulting in bodily injury, two counts of robbery and one count of misdemeanor theft, Lake Criminal Court records show.

Security officers at the Macy's store in Hobart noticed Johnson and Sims concealing items in their bags Aug. 20 and began video surveillance, court records say.

Security officers attempted to stop Sims and Johnson after they left the store, but the two wrestled with the officers, records say. Johnson punched a female security officer in the eye, and he and Sims fled in Sims' silver 2010 Hyundai Elantra, police said.

Detective Lt. James Gonzales said he was able to identify the pair after receiving tips about surveillance photos released to the media. Gonzales contacted Sims, who admitted to taking items from the store, struggling with a security officer and fleeing in his car, court records said.

Items taken included Polo brand underwear, T-shirts and socks totaling about $248, records say. Sims allegedly told police he left them in a dumpster in Lansing after the confrontation with security officers, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Johnson and Sims were not in custody as of Wednesday night. They are known to frequent the area of 822 174th Ave. in Hammond and the 5400 block of Mary Ann Lane in Merrillville, police said. Sims' silver Hyundai Elantra has Indiana plate number 207MIY, police said.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call police.


Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.