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Examiner
  • Police investigating smash-and-grab robberies

  • Independence police say they have solved and turned over to prosecutors a string of smash-and-grab robberies at several businesses over several weeks.

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  • Independence police say they have solved and turned over to prosecutors a string of smash-and-grab robberies at several businesses over several weeks.
    The robbers didn’t always get much but caused a lot of damage, said Detective Steve Cook.
    “A lot of these places, they were breaking out plate-glass windows,” he said.
    Police have arrested one man, though charges are pending. Police also are looking for someone they describe as a person of interest, 21-year-old Jack O. Vanvelson, whose last known address was in Blue Springs. He’s 5-foot-9, weighs 150 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.
    Among the businesses hit were a Starbucks, a Sonic, a Mr. Goodcents and Salvatore’s restaurant. At a tattoo parlor on 23rd Street, the robbers broke an $850 window and took a laptap.
    Cook said the robbers were looking for money for drugs and would typically go to a business and find a nearby water meter cover – even a piece of asphalt from the parking lot – and hurl it through the window. Then they would go inside and grab the cash register, often gaining little because businesses generally leave nothing in the till overnight.
    “They were trying to do things just to gain money to get more drugs,” he said.
    And the empty cash register?
    “They would just dump it,” Cook said.
    Altogether, police say, 21 Independence businesses were hit, including about seven in one night. Then someone saw such a robbery happening at a salon in Blue Springs and called police, who detained two people. Blue Springs police called Independence police, who were able to interview one of the men and made their first arrest Jan. 31. Independence police also are looking for a third man, but all they have on him so far is a first name.
     
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