2 Men Arrested for Michigan Payday Loan Store Robberies
By Lindsay Frankel
A Lansing resident matched the description of three armed robberies that have occurred since May. Battle Creek police most recently investigated an October 22nd robbery at a payday loan business location. The suspect demanded money from the clerk while pointing a handgun at him, according to police. He then escaped through the back exit and drove off in a truck. There were no injuries related to the robbery.
The description of the robbery and the suspect matched two other robberies at Battle Creek payday loan stores, one in September and another back in May. Detectives with the Battle Creek Police Department have also been collaborating with the Lansing Police to investigate four robberies targeting check cashing businesses> that happened around the same time. Police say these robberies may have been committed by the same suspect.
The suspect was arrested at a bus station and was found with stacks of cash and a handgun. He was held at a Chicago jail. Police also tracked down the getaway vehicle and arrested the alleged driver, a Battle Creek resident, in connection with the robberies.
“The citizens that helped call this robbery in and provide information on the suspect and vehicle were crucial in the quick apprehension of these men,” said officials in a press release. “This was a true community effort to stop these criminals before someone got injured.”
It’s not yet clear why the suspects allegedly chose to target payday loan storefronts and check cashing locations in Michigan. However, some studies show links between the presence of payday lending businesses and higher rates of violent crime. Some researchers believe that payday lenders intentionally locate in high-crime areas, where residents are in need of quick cash, while others believe that predatory lending increases crime rates.
“We found that the areas with the highest levels of violent crime were about seven times more likely to have check-cashing places,” said Joel Ray, lead author of a study published in Sociology Mind.
Whether payday loan stores target criminals as customers or predatory lending drives up crime, payday lenders are known to financially burden the communities where they locate. That’s because the high interest rates and short terms lead to chronic borrowing, which traps borrowers in debt. Payday loans in Michigan cost borrowers an average of 369 percent APR, a rate nearly 20 times higher than the average credit card.