TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Authorities across the state are searching for a conman who is armed and on the run, passing himself off as a cop. Officials have released new information about the suspect- including a description of his car, his true identity and the false identities he has been using to scam businesses.
Robert Helms, 45, of Pittsburg, KS, has been targeting stores in different parts of the state since early January, paying for purchases with faulty checks and trying to cash fake pay checks all while pretending to be a law enforcement officer.
His crime spree started on January 6, 2013 at an Alco Store in Girard, KS. He also hit other Alco locations in Pratt, Ulysses, Kingman, Louisburg, Garnett, Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Beloit and Sabetha. The company reportedly lost at least $5,000 as Helms went from store to store. They provided WIBW with security footage of Helms in the act.
He also went to convenience stores, grocery stores and liquor stores in different cities. He was last seen Saturday, January 26th in Lyons, Kansas (central KS) and in Hugoton, Kansas (very far southwest Kansas).
In the beginning, KBI agents say Helms would go into stores and buy electronics and gift cards and pay with fake personal checks from nonexistent banks, complete with fictitious account and routing numbers. More recently, he’s been trying to cash phony payroll checks from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office (which doesn’t exist in Kansas) and the Meade County Sheriff’s Office (which is an actual agency in southwest Kansas).
If any questions are asked about the checks, Helms identities himself as a officer of the law, displaying a badge and a weapon on his hip and acting as a plainclothes officer or detective. His ploy has made it easier for him to use the bad checks to get money, investigators said, adding that he is also eroding the trust the public has for members of law enforcement.
Helms is using false identities with the help of different driver’s licenses but the name he uses most often is Brian Moore. He’s also used the name William Jenkins.
In surveillance video, he is always well dressed in a dress shirt, tie and black jacket.
He is driving a Chrysler or Dodge minivan, dark in color and it is believed to be a 2000 model.
Helms is so bold that he contacted law enforcement officials last week and told them that he knew he was being pursued and that he is staying on the run.
He is no stranger to the system. Helms has previous convictions of theft, forgery, kidnapping and making worthless checks in different counties, including Sedgwick, Labette and Ford. He was released from prison last fall and the Kansas Department of Corrections lists him as an absconder. He hasn’t reported to his parole officer since October of 2012, authorities said.
Kansas law enforcement officials are asking the public to keep an eye out for Helms’ van and to be aware of the false identities he’s been using in the hopes that other businesses will not fall prey to his tactics and so that he can be caught.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-KS-CRIME (1-800-572-7463).