FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne man’s penchant for using a hammer to break into fast food restaurant’s drive-thru windows in order to steal cash registers will cost him a decade behind bars.

An Allen Superior Court judge sentenced 54-year-old David Sylvester to 10 years in prison on Friday as part of a plea agreement where Sylvester admitted to admitted to breaking into multiple restaurants.

Sylvester’s spree ended when he crashed a Chevy Malibu while trying to evade police this past April.

Prior to his crash, investigators were alerted to a break-in and burglary at the Arby’s at 6002 Stellhorn Road.

Security footage provided by the restaurant showed a man driving up to the drive-thru window in a maroon Chevy Malibu, using a hammer to break into the eatery and stealing multiple cash registers, according to court documents.

David Scott Sylvester
David Scott Sylvester

The man in the security footage, as well as the method of the break-in, matched that shown in surveillance footage from a burglary at the Taco Bell at 2020 North Coliseum Boulevard, court documents said.

A third break-in, this time at the Hardee’s at 2720 Mapelcrest Road, was also reported within a day or two. Security footage showed a person who looked like the same man, in the same car, as that shown in footage at the Taco Bell and Arby’s gaining access the Hardee’s and stealing cash registers, court documents said.

Ultimately, Sylvester was charged with 10 felony counts of burglary in connection to various incidents, according to court records.

Police investigators were able zero in on the man in the footage as Sylvester, and witnesses who knew him thought he was living in an abandoned building near an automotive shop near Lake Avenue and Coliseum Boulevards.

An officer who went to check the area found the maroon Malibu belonging to Sylvester parked at a liquor store, according to court documents. Officers followed the Malibu to the Hallmark Inn near downtown, and then converged on the car and tried to block it in the parking lot.

Sylvester then ignored commands from officers to get out of the car. Instead, he accelerated toward officers.

In court documents, one investigator wrote that Sylvester narrowly missed a marked police vehicle by which an officer was standing.

The Malibu then crashed into a curb and a fence along the south side of the parking lot, careened into another marked police vehicle, crashed into the fence again near a dumpster, ran over and dragged a mattress and then sped away at a high rate of speed, court documents said.

Sylvester got the Malibu out onto Maumee Avenue but crashed it in the middle of the street and fled on foot, according to court documents.

He was then caught by officers, who found him in possession of a crack pipe, court documents said.

Inside the Malibu, officers found several cash drawers and cash registers. The Malibu was also reported stolen, according to court documents.

Along with the burglary charges, Sylvester also pleaded guilty to auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest using a vehicle.

At his sentencing, Sylvester was given 134 days credit for time served due to being incarcerated at Allen County Jail while his case wound through the legal system.