The man who recently robbed the El Cheapo in Midway probably also is responsible for robbing Subway restaurants in Richmond Hill and Savannah, according to police. Authorities are searching for a 25- to 30-year-old white male described as clean-cut and “preppy,” who likely is driving a white Ford Expedition.
The suspect robbed the Subway on Exchange Street in Richmond Hill around 5 p.m. June 7, according to a Richmond Hill Police Department report. The suspect reportedly was wearing a light blue shirt, dark blue shorts and a tan baseball cap.
He left the store and cut through the adjacent neighborhood, where a homeowner saw him get into a white Expedition and head toward Interstate 95, RHPD Detective Doug Sahlberg said.
The same suspect is believed to have robbed the Subway in Berwick Plaza on Highway 17 in Savannah on June 15 and the El Cheapo on East Oglethorpe Highway in Midway on Thursday, according to Richmond Hill Police Detective Doug Sahlberg.
“It appears to definitely be the same individual,” Sahlberg said after reviewing surveillance video footage of the robberies.
“He always wears a hat pulled down low, dresses preppy and wears boat shoes, Docksiders or something like that, and usually a preppy shirt,” he said.
Sahlberg said in each video, the man approaches the cashier or register with his hands in his pockets. He then hands a bag to the cashier with one hand and with the other, lifts his shirt to reveal a gun.
Sahlberg said the suspect seems so casual in his actions that a customer in the store may not even realize a robbery is being committed.
“He’s brazen,” Sahlberg said. “He’s not stupid — he touches nothing. Even when he goes to the bathroom (in one video), he barely touches the door. You can tell he’s very cautious.”
According to a Savannah-Chatham Metro Police report, the Subway in Berwick Plaza was robbed just before 10 p.m. June 15. The suspect, described as a white male around 6 feet tall dressed in a black hat, thin red windbreaker, a gray hoodie and jeans, handed a plastic bag across the counter and put his hand in the front of his pants “as if he had a weapon.”
According to a police report filed by Midway Police Department Officer Matthew Ainsworth, the El Cheapo at 13670 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Midway was robbed at 7:57 a.m. Thursday.
Ainsworth said he and Midway Police Chief Kelli Morningstar responded to an armed robbery call from the store. The clerk, Crystal Howard, told the authorities the suspect was a white male dressed in a blue striped shirt, blue jeans, a blue ball cap with a red bill and dock shoes. She said the man appeared to be between 25-30 years old.
Ainsworth and Morningstar said they searched the woods behind El Cheapo, the nearby Huddle House and on both sides of Interstate 95 near the exit 76 overpass, but found nothing.
A. Patel, the owner of El Cheapo, said the suspect took $262 from the register.
Just before that incident, Sahlberg said, the suspect appeared to have tried to rob the Parker’s next door. In video footage from Parker’s, Sahalberg said, the suspect can be seen approaching the register with his hands in his pockets. Just as he’s about to remove his hands, a man and a young girl enter the store and the suspect puts his hands back in his pockets.
Sahlberg said the suspect left the store and sat in his white Expedition in the parking lot for about 45 minutes before changing his shirt and walking over to the El Cheapo.
“I have a feeling he’s local — not necessarily Bryan County, but he knows the area. He’s not just going up and down 95,” Sahlberg said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits again soon.”
Liberty County Chief Deputy Keith Moran said law-enforcement authorities from all three jurisdictions are working to close the case.
“The officers were just making assumptions, based on their investigative work, that indications at this time are that this is possibly the same offender,” Moran said. “We have two detectives working with the Richmond Hill and Savannah agencies to try to identify this offender.”