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Suspected cellphone store robber found hiding under blanket in attic, police say

Suspected cellphone store robber found hiding under blanket in attic, police say

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HAMMOND — Police say they have arrested a man suspected of robbing cellphone stores in Hammond and Merrillville last month.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is charging Daniel Smith with the Jan. 24 holdup at Boost Mobile in the 2700 block of 169th Street in Hammond.

The charging affidavit alleges Smith also is a suspect in the Jan. 31 robbery of the Metro PCS store in the 6000 block of Broadway in Merrillville, and Wednesday’s robbery at the Boost Mobile store in the 17500 block of Kedzie Avenue in Hazel Crest.

Hammond police arrested Smith shortly after the Hazel Crest holdup. They said they found him hiding under a blanket in the attic of his girlfriend’s residence in the 6400 block of Missouri Street in Hammond.

Chris Gootee, a member of the FBI’s Gang Response Investigative Team, alleges in the affidavit that Smith was identified in surveillance footage as the man who stole cash and cellphones from all three businesses.

Police released an image of the gunman wanted in the Hammond and Merrillville robberies last week.

Officers said the man entered the Hammond cellphone store, pointed a handgun at a clerk and ordered new cellphones put in a duffel bag before fleeing.

Police say a man fitting the same description walked into the Merrillville store the following week, pulled out a handgun and showed a clerk it was loaded with bullets before stealing 18 Apple iPhones, which he put in a duffel bag.

Police said last week they were looking for that man as well as a red Chevrolet Impala he escaped in.

Police said a man entered the Hazel Crest store Wednesday and robbed its employees of several cellphones in a similar manner.

One employee ran after the suspect and photographed him fleeing in a red Ford Taurus.

Shortly afterward, Hammond police located a Taurus with the same Indiana license plate parked on Missouri Street in Hammond near a Chevrolet Impala that appeared to be the same car seen at the Hammond and Merrillville robberies.

Hammond officers asked the homeowner for permission to search her house. She initially refused, but consented to a search after officers warned they would request a warrant to search the home.

Police said they found Smith hiding in the attic as well as a duffel bag containing all the cellphones stolen from the Hazel Crest store.

Gootee said officers also located a juvenile male who said he drove Smith to the Hazel Crest store.

The charging affidavit states the juvenile told police Smith promised to pay $20 for the ride to Hazel Crest where Smith said he was going to "get several Apple iPhones on credit."

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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