A man suspected of robbing three Salt Lake County shoe stores in less than an hour Monday and committing a weekend robbery in Murray slipped past police and search dogs, authorities said.
The man, described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, red-haired and weighing 145 pounds, walked into the Payless Shoesource at 1816 W. 54th South, Kearns, put a box on the counter and then pulled out a chrome automatic pistol, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jerry Holt.The man demanded all the money from the cash register and safe, and ordered the clerk to the back of the store. Holt said the suspect got away with an undetermined amount of cash and a pair of cowboy boots.
"Apparently, from all descriptions, it's the same individual who did the robbery on Highland Drive and on Ninth South," Holt said. A suspect matching the description also robbed Benson Optical, 6120 S. State, at 4:38 p.m. Saturday, said Sandy Police Lt. Paul Forbes.
Forty minutes after the 9:32 a.m. robbery in Kearns, a second Payless was robbed at 2219 S. Highland Drive, and a third, at 905 S. State, was hit 10 minutes later, authorities said.
An officer spotted the suspect's car as it pulled away from the curb and began traveling east on Eighth South. The man then pulled into a driveway at the rear of the house on the corner of Eighth South and 340 East, got out of the car and went inside, said Salt Lake Police Lt. Joel Campbell.
"He did it so casually that at first we thought he lived there or else he was visiting someone who lived there," Campbell said.
The man told a resident in the home that he was a real estate agent and was interested in purchasing the home next door.
"He was acting real peculiar," the homeowner said. "Then he asked me if he could run through my house."
The man then entered the home and left through the front door. Police watched the home and finally telephoned to find out what had happened. When the homeowner said the suspect had left, police began a door-to-door search and brought in K-9 dogs.
Authorities impounded the suspect's car, which had Wyoming license plates, but could not release any more details about the robbery. "I have a red-headed suspect out there," said Salt Lake Police Lt. Jerry Abbott.