A retail theft case that sent police to a South Strabane Township strip mall Saturday night had some people mistakenly believing a business there had become victim again to an armed robbery.
Township police said a call was dispatched to them about 9:30 p.m. as an armed robbery at a Giant Eagle in Strabane Square, but when they arrived, they found the suspect, Brian L. Fodor Sr., held to the ground by two men. Court records indicate he stole $1,173 worth of cigarettes from the store.
Witnesses observed employees chasing the suspect from the store, police said, in a scene that played out similar to a deadly bank robbery June 16 at a Citizens Bank branch in the same businesss.
Investigators Friday offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of a heavily disguised man who robbed the bank June 16 and then shot and killed Vincent M. Kelley, 46, of Washington, during a chase. That suspect wore a floppy straw hat and carried an open umbrella as a red dye pack exploded around some of the money during his getaway. The case has area consumers nervously checking their money and calling police when they find red spots on bills.
In Saturday’s case, people inside the Giant Eagle reported seeing Fodor, 45, of Strabane, jump over a counter into the vacant cigarette station and then crouch to avoid detection, police stated in the affidavit.
Meanwhile, a cashier told police she later was given a black garbage bag filled with cigarettes Fodor is accused of dropping near a PNC bank as he fled.
Another man involved in the foot chase toward a nearby Toyota dealership off Route 19, Barry Graham, identified himself to Fodor as an off-duty police officer and was grabbed by the throat during a struggle with the suspect, court records indicate. Police said they also found drug paraphernalia on Fodor, of 104 Alexander St.
Fodor, who also is charged in a robbery earlier this month at a Peters Township hardware store, is charged by South Strabane police with felony retail theft, simple assault, possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct. He is in the Washington County jail on $100,000 bond set by District Judge Joshua Kanalis.