Sioux Falls Alleged Casino Bandit Apprehended After Two Robberies


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Posted on: December 27, 2022, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: December 27, 2022, 03:00h.

A 60-year-old man wanted for two South Dakota casino robberies was arrested late last week. He faces several charges.

Sioux Falls police cruiser
Sioux Falls police cruiser, pictured above. The department arrested a man for two casino heists in South Dakota. (Image: KELO)

The suspect was spotted in a car on Thursday, December 22 outside of Deuces Casino in Sioux Falls. The car matched the description of a vehicle used in prior Sioux Falls casino holdups, authorities said.

Dakota News Now reported the suspect was later identified as Jeffrey Kovatch. He was charged with two counts of robbery, burglary, and aggravated alluding. He also was charged with a drug count after suspected methamphetamine (meth) was found in his car.

Kovatch saw the police, began to drive away, but later crashed the car at the intersection of Dardanella Road and Randolph Lane, authorities said. He later allegedly jumped out of the vehicle and ran away.

But police apprehended him at an apartment complex where he was hiding in a hallway from cops, police said.

Two Robberies

The first robbery was on December 19 at Big Al’s Casino, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. Kovatch never drew a firearm nor took his hands out of his pockets during the holdup.

Sam Clemens, a spokesperson for the Sioux Falls Police Department, said the incident began when the suspect entered the casino.

He threatened to shoot people inside the casino before stealing money, police said. The casino’s surveillance cameras got a photo of the suspect’s car.

The second robbery was on December 22 at Joker’s Casino. An employee there hit an alarm. The suspect fled from the casino without any cash.

A similar-looking car was used by the suspect in the second robbery as was used in the first one, police said. A description of the car was sent to casinos in the region.

It was first reported to be a dark-colored Grand Prix. It had a paper registration plate.

Prior Holdups

In July, in what may have been an unrelated crime, two men robbed a Sioux Falls gaming venue. It was identified as Paradise Casino.

Local police revealed the two masked bandits entered the casino, pulled a handgun on an employee and demanded money. The duo then fled the casino with an unknown amount of cash. No one was injured.

To conceal their identity, they wore bandanas over their faces, KELO, a local TV station, reported.

In November 2021, a Happy Jacks Casino was held up in Sioux Falls. A man went into the gaming venue and handed a threatening note to an employee, KELO said. The bandit then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. No firearm was shown.

In December 2020, an unidentified man robbed an unnamed Sioux Falls gaming venue as he brandished a handgun, reported KSFY, a local TV station. He had grabbed an employee’s arm and then scooped up the money.

He then ran off with an unspecified amount of cash. About a half dozen people were in the casino at the time of the robbery.

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