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Police seek Kentucky Fried Chicken burglary suspect
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Police seek Kentucky Fried Chicken burglary suspect

HOBART — After a Region Kentucky Fried Chicken was broken into and ransacked Christmas Eve, police are searching for the suspect who has been identified but remains at large, police said.

Police are searching for Damon Antonio Clay, who was known to be last staying at a Merrillville hotel.

At 1:30 a.m. Dec. 24 police were called to an activated alarm at Kentucky Fried Chicken in the 3200 block of East 80th Avenue, said Hobart Capt. James Gonzales. Officers found a shattered drive-thru window with broken glass inside the restaurant.

An employee showed police surveillance footage, which showed a suspect going inside the restaurant and rummage through the registers.

The suspect seen on video was described as a black man wearing dark-colored clothing, black gloves and a large, puffy-style jacket. One of the responding officers recalled seeing a man who matched the description walking near Sam’s Club going west in the area of U.S. 30 and Colorado Street.

Police searched the area of the 8200 Block of Louisiana Street, near the Fairbridge Inn, and an officer spoke with a man whose appearance matched the suspect’s. The man, identified as Clay, claimed he had stopped at a nearby gas station, which had been closed for several hours, police said. He told police he also went to another gas station, pointing toward the area of KFC, and purchased doll clothing. However, the officer said he did not find any doll clothing in Clay’s possession, Gonzales said.

Police interviewed the Fairbridge Inn clerk, who saw Clay that morning, and it was determined he was wearing the same clothing as seen on the KFC camera.

Clay was taken to Hobart City Jail, where he allegedly admitted to an investigator that he kicked open the glass drive-thru doors and entered the fast food restaurant. He further said he was searching for money to support his addiction, police said.

Clay was charged with burglary and criminal mischief and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He remains at large and anyone who knows of his whereabouts is asked to call 911, Gonzales said.

Police reported that Clay was last known to be residing at the Fairbridge Inn, in the 8200 block Louisiana Street in Merrillville. Gonzales said surveillance cameras greatly assisted in the investigation.

“Hobart officers that morning were diligent with their initial investigation and were able to effectively ‘connect the dots’ and bring a swift resolution to this burglary,” Gonzales said. “In most cases, any law enforcement officer will admit that burglaries are some of the more difficult cases to solve. But with the increased prevalence of surveillance cameras in and around homes and businesses, it has really assisted with the investigative efforts by law enforcement to help solve these difficult cases.”

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts and investigative news. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology. 219-933-4194, anna.ortiz@nwi.com

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