Sixty-two-year-old Robert Escobar wrote “please” on robbery notes and readily admitted when confronted by detectives that he committed four videotaped robberies of the same gas station — wearing green Nike sneakers each time — saying he had a bad heart, survived colon cancer, and had relapsed on heroin.
Arrest records released Friday describe how a neighborhood man recognized his face on a flyer that police were passing around, and how detectives were finally able to zero in on him. Escobar let the investigators into his apartment on Oxford Street in Hartford, two blocks from the Sunoco station on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford, sat down at his kitchen table with them, and in minutes admitted to all four robberies over a six-month span, the last one on Wednesday evening. All of them were recorded on surveillance tape, and only in the last one did the suspect cover his face. A firearm was not displayed in any of the robberies. In a couple of the robberies, he allegedly feigned having one, the records state.
“Robert confessed that he had committed the robberies,” the arrest affidavit says. “Robert explained that after being diagnosed with colon cancer a couple of years ago, he went on disability, and relapsed on heroin. Robert relayed that he was struggling financially and decided to try robbing the Sunoco convenience store.“
The first note he allegedly wrote, for the robbery on June 28, said, “This is a robbery please hand me all your money.” He fast-walked away with $600 that time, the warrant states. For the last three robberies on Oct. 22, Nov. 9, and Thursday, he netted $500 twice, and $200 the last time.
He told the investigators he used the cash to pay down debts to drug dealers and buy dope.
The detectives spotted the green Nike sneakers on the bedroom floor, and found the distinctive jacket he’d worn — with the words “Southpole Classic” printed on the front in black letters, and the number “21” printed in white letters on the left sleeve, the affidavit says. They also collected a blue winter hat with two eye holes cut into it, and the hooded sweatshirt that appears to have been worn in two of the robberies. The tattoo of a jaguar on his left forearm was also visible in the surveillance video.
Escobar was charged Thursday with first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny in connection with the latest robbery. In court Friday, with his hands cuffed in front of him, his public defender cited his medical condition, but the judge quickly ruled that he was a threat to public safety. She set bail at $250,000. The prosecution said Friday that warrants will be issued to charge Escobar in connection to the other robberies.
Escobar is scheduled to return to court on Dec., 19, when his case will be considered for transfer to the upper division of Superior Court, where the most serious felonies go.