Crime spree sparks manhunt

Police scoured neighborhoods, searched around industrial buildings and used a police dog to look for a man they said is likely connected to three crimes committed in less than two hours in Franklin.

Investigators are looking for the man and piecing together the details but suspect all three crimes committed Friday morning are related.

At 6:25 a.m., a sport utility vehicle was stolen from a Franklin home. At 7:25 a.m., a man wearing a ski mask robbed a downtown gas station. And then at 8:15 a.m., the stolen vehicle crashed on Interstate 65, and the driver ran.

Investigators suspect the same person stole the vehicle and robbed the gas station, Franklin Police Department Detective Ray Tice said.

Officers received similar descriptions — a younger man wearing dark clothing — in both the robbery and crash, Tice said. And the short time between the incidents also suggests they’re related, he said.

“Looking at that possibility, listening to the timeline, it does sound awfully coincidental,” Tice said.

Police scoured the east side of the city, with officers driving up and down streets around industrial parks and neighborhoods and using a K-9 officer to try to track the man but had not found him by Friday afternoon. At least one resident called police late Friday morning to report seeing a man in dark clothing walking in the yard.

The first call in the case was a report of someone stealing a Honda CRV from a home in northern Franklin. At 6:25 a.m., a homeowner on U.S. 31 near Paul Hand Boulevard told police that the vehicle was stolen within about 15 minutes after going out to start it.

About an hour later, police were called to the Phillips 66 gas station, 400 E. Jefferson St., on a report of an armed robbery. The clerk said a younger man wearing a dark jacket, dark pants and a ski mask came into the store, pointed a firearm at him and demanded money.

After getting the cash the man left the store, but the clerk didn’t see whether he got into a vehicle or what direction he headed, Tice said.

While police were investigating the robbery, the Honda CRV that was stolen earlier in the morning crashed on I-65 at the Franklin interchange. The driver got out of the vehicle and ran east and then went inside Overton Industries, 2155 McClain Drive. The manufacturer is a short distance east of the interstate.

The man was inside the business for a short period then left and got into an unlocked vehicle on the property.

Police aren’t sure whether he was trying to hide or rest, but he was spotted and confronted by another person, Tice said. When the man was found, he got out of the vehicle and ran away, Tice said.

“It was just once he was located he ran. That’s where the search came in,” Tice said.

Franklin police, Indiana State Police troopers and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputies searched areas on the east side of the city near the industrial park. Sheriff’s deputies helped by driving along Upper Shelbyville Road and Jim Black Road while a police dog searched the area, Sheriff Doug Cox said.

At a glance

Anyone with information related to a vehicle theft and armed robbery in Franklin on Friday is asked to call Detective Ray Tice at 346-1144.