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Man gropes cashier, leaves hit-and-run scene, waves knife at cashier in White Lake Twp. crime spree

Police say Joel David Lawton went on crime spree in White Lake Township

Joel Lawton (WDIV)

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Police in White Lake Township accused a man of going on a crime spree that included groping a cashier, leaving the scene of a hit-and-run crash and threatening another cashier with a knife all in one day.

Officials said Joel David Lawton, 48, walked into the Shell Gas Station Monday in the 6000 block of Highland Road in White Lake Township. Lawton is accused of groping the female cashier before concealing several items and leaving without paying.

Moments later, police said Lawton was involved in a private property hit-and-run at a dance studio in the 900 block of Nordic Driver. A witness called police and provided Lawton's description and his license plate number.

Lawton then walked into the Little Caesar's restaurant in the 5000 block of Highland Road and brandished a knife at the female cashier, demanding money, police said. The cashier ran to the back of the store to get help from the manager, and Lawton fled without stealing any money, police said.

Waterford Township police tracked Lawton to his home, where he was arrested with the help of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Lawton is charged with armed robbery, unarmed robbery, two counts of criminal sexual conduct, retail fraud and failing to stop and identify after a collision.

Lawton was arraigned on all the charges and denied bail. He is being held at the Oakland County Jail.

Officials said Lawton has a parole absconder warrant out of Ohio for violating parole on several armed robbery charges.