A Howard City man wanted by the FBI and police in two states is behind bars, charged with a series of crimes that put several West Michigan communities on edge.
Jacob Abraham Savickas faces felony charges for crimes in Grand Rapids, Walker, Wyoming and Cedar Springs. He is being held in the Kent County Jail on a $850,000 bond.
The FBI Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested him Wednesday afternoon at a hotel on 28th Street near Patterson Avenue SE.
Savickas, 33, is accused of robbing a Grand Rapids bank and using menacing notes to get money from area businesses.
“There’s significant evidence he’s been under the influence of drugs pretty substantially,'' Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said Thursday, Aug. 10. "It’s hard to get details about where he was.''
Over the span of eight days in late July and early August, police say Savickas, who has grappled with substance abuse problems and financial woes, was involved in more than a half dozen unarmed robberies.
His face was plastered on local television stations and in newspapers last week and a description of his rusting, 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue provided to police agencies statewide.
He was arraigned Thursday in Grand Rapids District Court on a charge of bank robbery for an Aug. 2 hold-up at an Independent Bank branch on Plainfield Avenue NE. Authorities say he entered the branch about 10:30 a.m. and handed the teller a note demanding money.
He was also arraigned in 63rd District Court Thursday for larceny from a person, a 10-year felony.
Savickas is accused of handing an Admiral gas station clerk a note stating: "Give me the money now,'' court records show. He got away with an undisclosed amount of cash from the July 27 heist in Cedar Springs. When Kent County deputies arrived, the clerk was "visibly shaken up and crying because she was scared,'' a detective wrote in court records.
A deputy spotted the suspect's vehicle on U.S. 131 north of Rockford and tried to stop it. The driver fled at speeds exceeding 100 mph, court records show. Savickas is charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer, a two-year felony.
He faces charges in Walker and Wyoming district courts on separate counts of larceny from a person.
Police say they believe he tried to get cash from a McDonald’s employee working a drive-through window in Walker. The incident occurred Aug. 2 at the McDonald’s on Alpine Avenue south of Three Mile Road NW. He left empty-handed.
In Wyoming, he's accused of larceny from a person at the J&H Mobil station on Clyde Park Avenue at 44th Street SW.
“The common thread is he’s passing a note,’’ Kent County Sheriff's Sgt. Joel Roon said. “He’s not actually implying a weapon and he’s never shown a weapon.’’
Savikas has a misdemeanor shoplifting conviction in Grand Rapids and two felony convictions in Kent County that put him behind bars. He's being charged as a habitual offender because of the two felonies from 2015.
In June, 2015, he pilfered more than $1,900 in cigarettes from the Citgo station on West River Drive NE near Fifth-Third Ballpark. A witness obtained a license plate number which led to Savickas. He was charged with first-degree retail fraud.
He was also charged with organized retail crime for stealing a $129 tool from the Menards store on Alpine Avenue NW in Jan. 2015 and pawning it at a business on Leonard Street NW. A judge placed him on probation.
He was sentenced to between one and five years in prison for the cigarette heist. Savickas was out on parole, but went AWOL and was put on absconder status July 7.
"It is very comforting to know that somebody out recklessly committing crimes is now in custody,'' LaJoye-Young said. "Anytime that’s going on and they’re not in a controlled situation, it's unpredictable what can happen.''
Court records indicate Savickas has substance abuse issues; cocaine and alcohol are mentioned specifically.
Savickas lists an address in Howard City. In May, he filed for bankruptcy, listing nearly $44,890 in debt against $6,420 in assets.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.