A North Judson man has been charged in connection with the theft of St. Jude’s donation jars from the front counters of two local gas stations, according to the Chesterton Police Department.
The Chesterton Police Department said on its Facebook page the man has been identified as 43-year-old Joshua Todd.
According to police, at 1:36 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, a male subject driving a silver Dodge Avenger—with a license plate whose number was indistinct on the video surveillance footage—entered the BP at 525 Indian Boundary Road and asked the clerk for a can of tobacco. When the clerk turned to retrieve one, the man is seen on surveillance footage grabbing a jar from the counter, placing it in the front of his trousers, and covering it with his jacket, the report stated.
The clerk then turned back and placed a can of tobacco on the counter, at which time the man told the clerk either that he’d forgotten his identification or had no money, the report stated. The man exited the business and left the scene. The BP’s owner advised that the jar is believed to have contained around $30, police said.
A detective learned of a similar theft at the Speedway at 502 Gateway Blvd., also on Nov. 16, when a man entered the store and asked the clerk for a can of tobacco, then grabbed the donation jar and concealed it under his jacket as the clerk turned around. On this occasion the man did purchase the tobacco and left in a vehicle of unknown make. The Speedway’s manager advised that the jar contained approximately $5 in change, the detective stated.
In the course of his investigation, the detective obtained information about two similar thefts in a neighboring jurisdiction on Monday, Nov. 13, as well as an attempted one later in the day, which was foiled when the gas station’s manager—having heard of the two earlier thefts and seeing the suspect vehicle enter his parking lot— removed the donation jar from the counter. The manager was also able to record the license plate number of the suspect vehicle, which returned to a silver Dodge Avenger and Joshua Todd, the detective stated.
The detective ran the license number through the Flock Safety camera system and was able to determine that Todd’s vehicle was photographed at 12:25 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the area of Ind. 49 and I-94. “This would put (Todd’s) vehicle in the area of Chesterton at the time the theft occurred,” the detective stated.
Todd was booked into the Porter County Jail on a charge of theft on Monday, Nov. 27, and bonded out.