Local News

Man, girlfriend charged in connection with robbery, burglary

SEBRING — A man, who has been considered a possible suspect in four robberies and a burglary, and his girlfriend were charged Monday in connection with one of those robberies and the burglary, authorities said Tuesday.

George Richard Hicks III, 36, and Christine Hudson, 39, both of 115 Sharon Ave., Sebring, were charged with robbery and grand theft in connection with the May 19, 2014, robbery of Dollar General Store, 79 Lunsford Road, Sebring, and burglary in connection with break-in May 20 at Cash for Gold, 1690 Vicki Drive, Sebring, according to a press release.

Additionally, Hicks was charged by the Sebring Police Department previously with attempted robbery in connection with the attempted robbery at the south Burger King. Although officials have said that robberies around the same time period at Arby’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, both in the city limits of Sebring, were similar, no one has been charged.

A Sebring Police Department arrest report for the attempted robbery at Burger King said following that incident a vehicle similar to one owned by Hudson was seen leaving Cash for Gold. Later authorities found clothing inside the vehicle that matched the description of what witnesses said the suspect in the Burger King attempted robbery was wearing.

In regards to the burglary at Cash for Gold, an arrest report for Hudson said that several patrons at Chili’s Restaurant reported seeing a burglary in progress at Cash for Gold.

During a subsequent investigation, investigators learned that almost $3,000 worth of jewelry was stolen during the burglary, the report said.

Deputies eventually went to the residence of Hicks and Hudson and found inside it jewelry matching what was stolen, the report said.

Although Hudson and Hicks initially denied being at Cash for Gold, Hudson later admitted that she drove Hicks to the business and that while she waited, he burglarized it, the report said.

Hudson also admitted to being the driver of a vehicle that transported Hicks to and from Dollar General, a warrant affidavit said. An employee said the robber demanded money and said he had a weapon, the report said.

Witnesses said they saw the robber leave the store and run to a Ford Taurus station wagon, the report said. The vehicle was the same kind used the next evening in the burglary, reports said.

Hudson told authorities she willingly participated because she and Hicks wanted money to buy more cocaine. Both were originally arrested on drug charges.

Highlands County Chief Deputy Mark Schrader said in a press release that he praised detectives in the case.

“We are pleased to have arrested suspects in this robbery, as well as the burglary at Cash for Gold. We credit the teamwork of our Criminal Investigations Unit in solving these major crimes,” Schrader said.

Authorities said the investigation continues.

”If anyone has further information on these cases they are encouraged to contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit and Detectives Allison Hinkle and Roger St. Laurent at (863)402-7250. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at (800) 226-TIPS(8477), or contact us on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.