Joe Daniel Thompson
Photo: Newton County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Newton County Sheriff's Office

Newton County man robbed gas station to pay his bar tab, police say

A Newton County man found himself unable to pay his bar tab last week and walked to the nearest gas station to get some cash. 

But, according to Porterdale police, 68-year-old Joe Daniel Thompson did not come by it honestly. He allegedly told the cashier “young man, this is a robbery” before making off with $630 from the register.

He then walked back to the bar and sat down to finish his drink, according to a police report obtained by Channel 2 Action News. Moments later, police arrived. Thompson reportedly polished off the drink before surrendering to officers.

The bar, Porterdale Bar and Grill, and the convenience store are both located in the same strip of businesses on South Broad Street in Porterdale attached to a BP station. A bartender told police Thompson had been drinking and buying rounds for other patrons since about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, nearly eight hours before he is accused of holding up the BP station.

Bar employees saw Thompson try unsuccessfully to withdraw cash from the ATM inside the bar to pay his tab, according to the report. They assumed he went to the BP next door to try that ATM.

Police responding to the alleged robbery saw Thompson walk out of the gas station and into the bar just after midnight. He was identified as the robbery suspect by the clerk.

Surveillance footage from the gas station “clearly showed Mr. Thompson speaking to (the clerk) at the counter and reaching into his right pants pocket,” police said in the report. The clerk believed Thompson had a gun, although police did not find one on him. They did, however, find the $630 in his pants pocket. 

Thompson was arrested on a charge of armed robbery. He was being held Monday in the Newton County Jail without bond.

According to police, his $50.80 tab went unpaid.

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