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AUSTINTOWN Man questioned in robberies at Tropitan Tanning Center



Published: Tue, August 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Poland man told police he was in the area buying drugs.

AUSTINTOWN -- A robber with a knife who stole a purse this weekend from a worker at the Tropitan Tanning Center may be the same man who robbed the business at knifepoint earlier in the week, township police said.

Detective Sgt. Frank A. Tomasino said he would question a man seen driving away from the area after the 8:45 p.m. Saturday robbery.

A 28-year-old woman told police she was leaving the South Raccoon Road business after locking it when the robber approached her from behind, demanding her purse.

As she backed away from him, she fell backward and hit her head on the pavement. She gave the man her purse and wallet, containing $160, credit cards and other items.

She said the man, about 19 to 22 years old and wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and sunglasses, ran into the woods behind the store. A 23-year-old employee at the neighboring Nicolinni's Restaurante said he heard the woman scream and saw the man run into the woods.

Two other people had seen a man enter a Dodge pickup truck at the time and followed it to Burkey Road toward Youngstown, returning to the tanning center with a license plate number.

The witnesses said the truck also returned to the center, and they again followed it, this time to Oakwood Avenue.

Two other witnesses said they also saw the truck return but said the driver wore different clothing.

Man questioned

When police tracked down the truck's owner, a 31-year-old Poland man, he told them his roommate had used the truck to go to Nicolinni's.

When police questioned the roommate, 30, he told them he had been in the area buying drugs and ran into the woods to hide them when he heard police sirens. He said he had returned later to retrieve the drugs.

Tomasino said police did not find the drugs. He said the pickup truck driver matches a description given by the woman who was robbed and by another employee who was robbed Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a man wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and a black bandanna over his face demanded money from the employee as the store closed around 9:30 p.m., police reports show.




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