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The Journal Gazette

  • Left: Hope; Right: Guy

  • Hope

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:00 am

Arrests made in string of liquor thefts

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Hennessey, Martell, Courvoisier and Remy Martin, all the fine cognacs out of southwest France.

Then there was Johnnie Walker Double Black and Patron Tequila.

Every time the burglars executed a smash and grab break-in at liquor stores owned by Belmont Beverage, Cap n' Cork or S&V Liquors in July, August and September, they went for the high-end stuff behind the counter, store owners said.

Belmont Beverage on Maplecrest Road was the latest to be hit, just before 4 a.m. Tuesday. Although Gary Gardner, operations manager for Belmont, says he lost count, he thinks that makes eight times his company's stores were burglarized. In all, the liquor stores have been hit at least 13 times since late July. 

This time, two of the accused burglars were caught, taking several police officers from New Haven and Fort Wayne on a chase before fleeing their stolen white work van on foot and being arrested separately, according to a Fort Wayne police report.

Damion Lamar Guy, 41, of the 5800 block of Turtle Creek Drive, was charged with burglary and domestic battery with misdemeanor charges of interfering with the reporting of a crime, domestic battery, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle and resisting law enforcement. He was being held without bail, according to an Allen County Jail spokesman.

Edward James Hope, 53, of 2500 block of Gay Street, was charged with two counts of burglary, auto theft and resisting law enforcement with misdemeanor charges of resisting law enforcement and driving with a suspended license. He was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail, the jail spokesman said.

The chase took officers from Adams Center Road to Moeller Road at 80 miles per hour, the report said. After one officer deployed stop sticks, also called tire deflation devices, the van slowed to 20 to 30 mph but continued to Meyer Road and Oxford Street in Fort Wayne.

Guy, who discarded his gray and black striped hooded sweatshirt and red hat with a black bill in the 3900 block of Eastway Drive, told officers he had been out for a morning jog. Officers noticed that he had not worked up a sweat and detained him, the report said.

Hope was taken into custody around East Rudisill Boulevard and Bueter Drive, just south of where the white van had stopped.

“That's certainly good news,” Gardner said Tuesday afternoon. He had predicted last week that the burglars would be caught because someone was bound to figure out who they were in the store videos.

But, Gardner said, there have to be two more out there.

“The videos are showing four people,” and the ones who were caught appeared to be older,” Gardner said.

“It looked like, to me, like one guy seems to supervise. The other guys seem to jump the counter, grabbing the stuff and putting it into the tubs,” Gardner said.

Belmont has installed laminate glass and some bars in some windows, but not at all of the 17 stores, Gardner said.

“It's nice to have your windows open,” Gardner said. “I like people to see in as well as see out.”

Four Cap n' Cork stores were burglarized, the last in late August.

Andy Lebamoff, Cap n' Cork co-owner, said his firm had been talking to the police.

“They wanted to get them just as bad as we did,” Lebamoff said. Cap n' Cork is ready to shore up window security, he said, but will not resort to the accordion-style roller windows typically used in places such as New York City.

“I don't want this to look like a war zone,” Lebamoff said.

Michael Joyner, Fort Wayne Police Department public information officer, said police are still searching for suspects in the string of burglaries.