Crimes follow unusual patternThree Superior businesses have fallen prey to armed robbers within the last month.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Three Superior businesses have fallen prey to armed robbers within the last month.
The crime spree began Oct. 12 with the robbery of Shultz’s Sports Bar, 1307 N. Fifth St. Ten days later, there was an armed robbery at the Spur station at 1706 Tower Ave. Then Monday, two men robbed the Payday Loan at 1808 Tower Ave. It’s the second time the lender was robbed this year.
“I think we’re generally seeing an upswing in this kind of violent crime,” said Superior Police Capt. Matt Markon.
Although the department has seen armed robberies this close together before, these are different, said Capt. Chad La Lor.
“To the best of my recollection when we had two or three robberies within a two or three week period previously, we either had the same suspect or suspected it was the same person,” he said.
In this current stretch, four individuals took part in three unrelated robberies.
Although suspects have been arrested in Schultz’s and Spur robberies, the two men involved in the Payday Loan robbery remain at large. The Superior Police Department released a surveillance photo of them Wednesday. The suspects are described as a black male about 5-foot-7 with a medium build, possibly in his early to mid 20s, and a white male also about 5-foot-7 with a medium build.
Robberies are a crime of opportunity, La Lor said. Most stores singled out as targets have cash on hand, a single employee behind the counter and light customer traffic, Markon said.
“You wouldn’t want to rob McDonald’s at noon,” he said.
But with the economy the way it is these days, having more than one employee on duty isn’t possible unless business is brisk, La Lor said.
Although there aren’t many things businesses can do to make themselves less of a target, he said, having a good security system can help in apprehension and prosecution of suspects.
“Surveillance always helps,” La Lor said.
Markon attributed recent arrests of armed robbery suspects to good security and police know-how.
Richard Carlisle Hollenbeck, 45, of Moose Lake was arrested a day after the Schultz’s Sports Bar robbery. Dennis James Houle Jr., 26, of Superior was captured hours after the Spur robbery. Both men face one count of armed robbery in Douglas County Circuit Court.
“Good initial response, good investigation, good security footage from cameras has led to good arrests,” Markon said.
Often, there is a link between violent crime and the local drug culture, Markon said. According to La Lor, drug activity is not increasing, but prices have gone up.
He said high unemployment and the impending holidays could also be part of the equation that leads to armed robbery.
But the risk far outweighs the gain. In each of the cases, La Lor said, the robbers got away with very little money. Hollenbeck is accused of taking $3,000 from Schultz’s Sports Bar and Houle took $234.64 from the Spur station, according to the criminal complaints.
Armed robbery is a class C felony in Wisconsin. If convicted, both men face up to 40 years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.
“It’s not a wise choice,” La Lor said.
Houle is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Hollenbeck’s next court appearance is scheduled for December.
A cash reward may be available for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the robbery. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call the Superior Police Department at (715) 395-7201 or the police Tipline at (715) 395-7468.