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Armed robbers' quest for cash was quick to flop, Clearwater police say

CLEARWATER — Two men were in jail Tuesday after their search for money turned into a string of armed robberies, police say.

Nicholas Hellman, 28, and Adam McGrath, 25, each face three felony counts of armed robbery after police say they drove around Monday night looking for vulnerable targets and threatened people with a fake gun. They were held at the Pinellas County Jail on $150,000 bail each.

Even before they were caught, the quest for quick cash was unsuccessful.

Police say the men first tried to rob Sandra Calkins, 24, at 1453 Evergreen Ave. McGrath allegedly approached Calkins and pointed the fake gun at her, a bandanna wrapped around his face. Witnesses broke up the robbery, and police say the men then drove off.

Forty-five minutes later, friends April Flick and Michael Northcutt were saying good night outside 1471 Franklin St. when McGrath allegedly approached them.

"We didn't even see them coming," Flick said. At first the two thought it was a joke.

The fake gun pointed at them, McGrath took off with Northcutt's wallet and Flick's purse.

Northcutt got a license plate number and police stopped and arrested Hellman and McGrath without incident 10 minutes later on North Highland Avenue.

Standing outside Tuesday near where she was robbed the night before, Flick said she has seen the neighborhood where she grew up change over the past three decades. "You could do anything you wanted," she said of the old neighborhood. "Now, nothing."

But if the goal was a load of cash, Flick said the $3 in her purse wouldn't help much. After the incident, police asked her to identify the suspects. Looking at the men accused, she thought to herself: "Was this really worth it for the $3 you got off me?"

Brian Spegele can be reached at bspegele@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4154.

Armed robbers' quest for cash was quick to flop, Clearwater police say 07/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:29pm]
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