Both Nichole and Adam Hardy face multiple charges after being linked to a theft at Zingo Express that was reported earlier this week.
On Monday, June 18th, Knox PD received a dispatch call from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office, requesting that an officer respond to the Zingo Express on Heaton Street in regards to an employee wanting to file a report about a stolen bank bag.
According to a police report, when the officer arrived, he made contact with the Zingo Manager. She said when she relieved the night shift employee at 5 a.m. that morning, she observed a bank bag was missing from under the counter.
When questioned about the missing bag, the employee replied that she noticed the bag was missing around 3 a.m. but she thought the manager had taken it during a prior shift change so she didn’t think anything about it.
The manager said she reviewed the security footage from the night prior and said a former employee, known to her as Nichole Hardy, entered the store at around midnight on Monday. Hardy reportedly spoke to the employee briefly near the counter before walking to the back of the store near the soda machines.
Around 12:07 a.m., a male subject with brown hair and a beard who was wearing plaid pants, white tennis shoes, a green ball cap and a blue shirt apparently entered the establishment and walked toward the restrooms.
On the tape, the employee was observed leaving the front counter and walking back to Nichole’s location.
When interviewed later, the employee reported that Nichole asked her to come back to the soda machines because the mountain dew had a bad taste. The employee told police that she went back to the maintenance room for a few moments to check the levels and found nothing wrong.
While the employee was responding to Nichole’s request, the male subject re-entered the frame and was caught on tape walking behind the counter, grabbing the bank bag and searching the shelf. He was then apparently seen tucking the maroon money bag into the front of his pants as he exited the store.
The manager told police that judging from receipts, the bag likely contained about $542. The officer requested a copy of the security footage of the incident and was informed it could be picked up later.
When the officer was contacted by the manager around 9:30 a.m. to retrieve the footage, he was informed that a separate “drive-off” incident had occurred the day before on Sunday, June 17th. She said the security footage showed that a male subject pumped over $33 of fuel into a small, black vehicle with tinted windows and left the parking lot northbound on US 35 without paying.
The manager said the black Ford Focus resembled Nichole Hardy’s vehicle and noted that the man pumping the gas looked like Nichole’s husband Adam Hardy.
After reviewing the footage from both incidents, the officer applied for a search warrant at the Hardy residence on Danker Street. The search warrant was signed by Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese Monday afternoon.
The police report indicates that the search warrant was executed at 11:23 p.m. on Monday night. Officers knocked on the door and announced their presence and apparently, moments later a male subject identified at Adam Hardy opened the door. He was secured at the doorway.
The couple’s 9-year-old son was reportedly seen coming out of his room and was escorted to the living room for safety. Nichole was located in her bedroom and was secured and escorted to the hallway where Adam was secured. When Nichole and Adam were being placed into custody, Nichole gave consent to allow her son to stay with his aunt who lives in town.
Officers took several photographs of the apartment while executing the search warrant. During the course of the warrant, they allegedly found two black nylon zip-lock bags in the nightstand of the master bedroom, as well as bags containing syringes, a spoon with burns on the bottom, a cotton ball, several clear zip-lock bags containing a white powdery substance.
Police apparently also discovered a Halloween mask and two pairs of men’s shoes, gray and white and those items were seized in regards to an ongoing attempted robbery case.
In the officer’s narrative, he included that he also observed a shoestring and butane lighter and from his training he knew those items are commonly used to inject heroin and other narcotics.
Police say that a portion of a cotton ball that apparently found was later tested with a field test kit 924. It reportedly tested positive for heroin.
All evidence items were photographed and placed into evidence at the Knox Police Department. Syringes that were located inside the black bags were photographed and secured in a hazmat safety container.
The reporting officer shared that during his investigation, he requested to speak with Detective Nemcek of the Hammond Police Department. Nemcek said that during the course of his investigation the victim in his case stated that her nephew Jeffery Charlton came to visit Nichole and Adam Hardy and stayed at a local hotel in Knox.
When the aunt questioned Charlton about where he got the money to pay for the hotel room, Jeffery allegedly replied that Adam and Nichole had stolen the bag from the Zingo gas station.
The Knox Police Officer was contacted by Detective Nemcek the following day on Tuesday, June 19th. He was informed that Charlton was in custody in their jurisdiction.
The detective reported that during an interview with the suspect, Charlton revealed that while at the Hardy residence, Adam allegedly came up with the idea to steal the money bag. He apparently told Charlton that Nichole was a former employee of the gas station and that she knew where the cash bags were located.
Charlton apparently stated that he entered the store shortly after Nichole Hardy who was to distract the employee. He admitted to grabbing the bag from behind the counter, exiting the store and meeting up with Adam Hardy who was waiting in his vehicle near a building across the street.
Charlton reported that he was driven back to Hammond by Adam and Nichole and the maroon cash bag was thrown out of the window on a county road near a cornfield.
The Knox officer conducted an interview with Nichole Hardy at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The officer read the Miranda rights and she reportedly signed a form agreeing to speak without an attorney present.
She reported that she knew the location of the money bags from when she was employed at Zingo Express in September of 2017. He also apparently admitted to getting gas on Sunday, June 17th. She said her and Adam were arguing and left the gas station. When asked whether she paid for the gas she said they didn’t but she didn’t realize that until they were already out of town.
When questioned about Jeffery Charlton, she was apparently hesitant to provide details but eventually said she knew him as “J”. and was unsure of his last name. She said he was Adam’s childhood friend.
Nichole first stated that she and “J” entered the gas station so she could get a soda and advised that J left but she purchased her soda. The officer said he thought she was lying about the incident and Nichole admitted that she, Adam and Jeffery planned to steal the cash bags. Nichole said she was supposed to distract the cashier to allow “J” enough time to get the bags. She admitted that she told him where to find them.
In the interview, Nichole also apparently stated that after stealing the cash bags, Jeffrey went to Adam who was waiting in the black Ford Focus. She said she returned home with her son and did not see Adam until the following day.
Nichole and Adam Hardy both face charges of visiting or maintaining a common nuisance, theft, possession of a narcotic, unlawful possession of a syringe, conversion, neglect of dependent and possession of paraphernalia. They are being held at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, according to police.
Jeffery Charlton is incarcerated at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the officer who worked on the case has requested that Charlton is long formed for the charges of theft.
All information provided above came from an official Knox Police case report. The officers who were associated with this case included S. Binkley and C. Dulin.