Armed robbers strike again

Published 5:29 am Thursday, May 22, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Officers from the Niles City Police Department responded to the 600 block of N. 14th St., Tuesday at 10:39 p.m on a call of strong armed robbery.
A press release later issued by the department said the victims, Richard Strauss and his wife, Barbara Strauss, were returning from visiting friends when the incident happened.
After parking and exiting their vehicle in the driveway, they were allegedly approached by three black males, the press release said.
The suspects allegedly robbed the Strausses of Mr. Strauss' wallet and Mrs. Strauss' purse.
All three suspects then fled to a nearby waiting vehicle, the press release said.
Mr. Strauss allegedly received minor injuries but his wife didn't sustain any injuries, police said.
Anyone with information regarding this crime are asked to call the Niles City Police Department Detective Bureau at 683-0404 and the identity of those calling will be kept confidential, the press release said.
Captain Jim Merriman at the Niles City Police Department, said there are certain similarities to other incidents of armed robbery that have occurred over the last month in Niles.
And, the Cass County Sheriff Department is also investigating an attempted home invasion that happened on Tuesday.
A press release from that department reports that a black male with tightly-braided hair wearing a black sweater with red pinstripes went to a door on Maple Street in Howard Township Tuesday night at 10:41 p.m. and asked to call someone because his car had broken down.
The release reported that when the homeowner told the man he would make the phone call for him and attempted to close the door to the house, the man began pushing his weight against the door, attempting to get inside the residence.
The homeowner was able to get the door closed, but another male of unknown race, approximately six feet tall and wearing a light blue jacket, entered the residence through an unsecured rear door.
The homeowner, who was home with his wife at the time, was able to frighten that individual into leaving by yelling for his dog and immediately contacted Cass County 911.
No vehicles were seen in the area by the homeowner. A search of the area by law enforcement also proved unfruitful.
Berrien County law enforcement was also advised of the incident and it was reported to Cass County deputies that a short time later the Niles City Police Department handled a similar incident in its jurisdiction where individuals matching the above descriptions were involved.
Detectives from both Niles and Cass County law enforcement agecies are currently working in conjunction to solve these incidents, which appear to have many similarities.
In other police reports:
Jon Kevin Keppler, 40, 1648 Sheffield, Niles, was arrested after an officer was dispatched to 13th Street and Merrifield Avenue on a report of hit and run of a fire hydrant, the police report said.
The police report said the officer located the suspect vehicle on 14th Street near Sheridan Avenue.
The vehicle had allegedly jumped a curb on the west side of the street and was driving on someone's lawn, the police report said.
The officer made contact with Keppler and allegedly smelled strong odor of intoxicants coming from inside the car, the police report said. The police report said Keppler stated he had drunk a bottle of wine throughout the afternoon because he was celebrating his divorce.
The police report said Keppler was taken into custody and transported to Niles Police Department.
He was booked and lodged with a 14 hour hold and $400 bond.
The police report said the officer later located the fire hydrant at 13th Street and Merrifield Avenue allegedly struck by Keppler's vehicle.
Keppler's vehicle, the police report said, allegedly had a dent on the front bumper from the accident.