Alleged Casino Bandit Apprehended After Two Robberies in Sioux Falls

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

Last updated on: December 27, 2022, 04:40h.

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

The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Kovatch by Dakota News Now, 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.

Kovatch 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.

Police approached Kovatch at the intersection of Dardanella Road and Randolph Lane when he drove away, authorities said. After crashing his car, he allegedly jumped out of the vehicle and ran away. Police apprehended him at an apartment complex where he was hiding in a hallway.

Two Robberies

The first robbery Kovatch is accused of committing took place 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 and the suspect fled 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.

Prior Holdups

In July, two men robbed the Paradise Casino, a Sioux Falls gaming venue.

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.