Officials: Tip Jar Robbers Taken Down By Alert Trooper

The Delaware State Police have arrested 27-year-old Theodore D. Shields and 29-year-old Melissa L. Hawkins, both of Coatesville, PA, in connection with a recent string of armed robberies, according to Public Information Officer, Master Corporal Michael Austin.

Austin said the investigation began on March 28, 2020, when Troopers responded to the El Diablo restaurant, located 1812 Marsh Rd., Wilmington, for a robbery, in which a male suspect implied that he was armed and then made off with a tip jar that was on the counter.

A second incident occurred on March 31, at the Pizza Pasta Restaurant, located at 1505 N. DuPont Hwy., New Castle. During this robbery attempt, the suspect assaulted one of the employees by striking them with a handgun before fleeing without obtaining any money or property, said Austin.

The third robbery in the string occurred on April 3 at the Hotspot Pizzeria, located at 1127 Churchman’s Rd., Newark, during which the suspect displayed a handgun and fled with a tip jar, according to Austin.

During the course of the investigation, detectives were able to confirm that the same suspect, later identified as Shields, was responsible for all three robberies, said Austin. Through further investigative measures, they were also able to develop a white, Mazda 626 with Delaware tags as a vehicle involved in the robberies, which was positively linked to Hawkins.

On Saturday, April 4, 2020, a patrol Trooper out of Troop 6 located the Mazda at the Exxon gas station in Newport. Both Shields and Hawkins were in the vehicle at the time of the stop and were taken into custody without incident.

During a search of the Mazda evidence was recovered further linking Shields to the robberies. One piece of evidence recovered was a silver and black handgun which was confirmed to be the weapon used in the robberies. The weapon was ultimately determined to be a BB gun. Detectives were also able to confirm that Hawkins was the getaway driver during all three robberies, said Austin.

Theodore D. Shields was charged with the following:

Robbery 1st Degree (3 counts)
Attempted Robbery 1st Degree (3 counts)
Conspiracy 2nd Degree (3 counts)
Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony (2 counts)
Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon (2 counts)
Wearing a Disguise during the Commission of a Felony
Assault 3rd Degree
He was arraigned in Justice of the Peace Court #11 and then committed to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution on $169,500.00 secured bail.

Melissa L. Hawkins was charged with the following:

Robbery 1st Degree (2 counts)
Attempted Robbery 1st Degree
Conspiracy 2nd Degree (3 counts)
She was arraigned in Justice of the Peace Court #11 and released on $44,500.00 unsecured bond.


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