Suspect holds up Lehigh Valley hotels

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - September 1, 2010

Police believe a single suspect has been robbing hotels in a number of different locations over the past few weeks.

The latest happened 3:00 a.m. Wednesday at the Hampton Inn in Bethlehem.

In an earlier case caught on surveillance, the thief, armed with a handgun, walked into the hotel in the middle of the night with his face covered with some kind of form-fitting mask.

He flashed his gun and told the receptionist to empty the register.

Police say he repeated this routine in each of the other robberies.

He then is usually gone in a matter of minutes.

Timothy Marahefka, General Manager of the Hampton Inn in Allentown, which has been hit twice since June, says there's a reason why you rarely hear about hotels being robbed.

"There's not a lot of cash in hotels, especially, limited service hotels, so that is odd that hotels have been getting hit. 25 years in the industry I have not seen this ever," Marahefka said.

Yet, in Allentown and surrounding communities, at least 8 hotels have been held up by this thief since the beginning of summer. A few have been hit more than once.

As a result, hotel officials in the Lehigh Valley have been supplementing their security measures.

"We added third party security on our property, reviewed all the locks on the building that everything's locking, make sure your staff is reporting anything that even seems suspicious around the property," Marahefka said.

Many of the patrons of the Super 8 Motel in Allentown, which was held up two nights ago, say these kinds of robberies are simply a sign of the times.

There were no reported injuries in any of the cases, including the one Wednesday.

The suspect is only described as 5'9 with an average build.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Berks-Lehigh Police Department.

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