Truck paint job tips police to robbery suspects

August 21, 2013

The unusual, customized paint job on a Dodge Ram pickup truck used by two men suspected of robbing a Canonsburg woman shopping at Giant Eagle in Strabane Square Tuesday afternoon proved to be the undoing of two Kentucky friends.

Justin Dakota Parrett, 22, and Dustin D. Riley, 21, both of Annville, were taken into custody by South Strabane Township police after the truck was spotted on East Maiden Street Wednesday morning by a restaurant owner familiar with the incident.

The two men are suspected of robbing Cheryl Dipippa as she loaded groceries into her vehicle. Dipippa told police she saw two men approach. One, later identified as Parrett, grabbed her wallet from the purse and ran in a zig-zag fashion across the parking lot toward Target. The other, later identified as Riley, denied being with Parrett and continued walking toward Giant Eagle.

Dipippa later learned that one of her credit cards had been used at Old Trails restaurant on Route 40 in South Strabane less than two hours after the theft. The two men used the card to purchase an order of cheese fries but did not eat them. The owner of the restaurant, Ralph Moore Jr., told police the two left in the Dodge Ram with a custom paint job that included orange paint and a blue “X” pattern. The truck sat up high.

About 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, Moore saw the same truck driving west on East Maiden and called to report it to police. The truck was stopped. Riley was driving and Parrett was the passenger.

The waitress who served them was able to positively identify them as the two who used the stolen credit cared. Parrett and Riley gave police statements admitting to the theft and attempt to use the other credit cards. Both told police they are addicted to heroin. Riley was found with the suspected drug and was taken to Washington Hospital for treatment of a medical condition.

Sgt. Michael Manfredi said the two had only been in the Washington area since Saturday, looking for work in the Marcellus gas industry.

“Dustin Riley had worked in the gas industry here and would go back to his home in Kentucky,” Manfredi said. “When he returned this time, he brought Justin back with him. But their job hunt apparently did not go so well. They were trying to get money to get back to Kentucky.”

Manfredi said police have not been able to determine if the truck was parked in the Strabane Square area so it could be used in their getaway.

“We haven’t been able to connect those dots yet,” Manfredi said. “We believe that had a plan to commit a robbery. Justin admitted to grabbing the wallet.”

The restaurant also was burglarized overnight. Manfredi said they have not been able to connect the pair with the break-in.

Parrett, who appeared to be wearing the same gray tank top he wore when he allegedly robbed the shopper, was arraigned before District Judge Jay Weller on charges of robbery, conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property, forgery and access device fraud. He was placed in Washington County jail on $50,000 bond.

Riley is expected to be arraigned on the same charges in addition to charges of possession of heroin and paraphernalia once he is released from the hospital.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before Weller.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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