Gilbert Lovato and his getaway driver, Audrey Hapke, were averaging at least one armed holdup per day in recent weeks, police say.
They repeatedly hit local fast food joints throughout Albuquerque, including Twisters, Church’s Chicken and McDonald’s, and made off with thousands of dollars over a month’s time, according to court records.
Police, who had been on the case for weeks, say they finally caught up with the pair Saturday night after they fled yet another robbery, this time at a Village Inn.
Hapke, 35, who police said was driving the getaway car, was not harmed in the shooting and was booked into the county jail Sunday on a no-bond hold. She’s facing 17 counts of armed robbery and 17 counts of conspiracy to commit robbery.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Hapke, she told detectives she had been Lovato’s getaway driver during numerous recent armed robberies, including the robberies of three Starbucks, a McDonald’s, a Church’s Chicken, a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Village Inn. But she couldn’t remember details about the robberies.
Lovato had repeatedly been captured on surveillance footage robbing the stores.
And he usually followed the same routine: He wrapped his gun in a scarf, gauze, or cloth and pointed it toward the cashier, grabbed tip jars and cash register money and sometimes made off with hundreds of dollars.
The holidays didn’t deter him – he robbed a Village Inn and a Starbucks on Christmas Day, according to the complaint.
Starbucks, it seems, was his most frequent target. Officers say he robbed five of the company’s cafes during the three-week period between Dec. 16 and Jan. 6. And he was also suspected of robbing a Wells Fargo branch during that time.
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Fred Duran said detectives had been investigating the robberies for weeks, and witnesses and victims regularly described the robber in the same way.