- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Police said yesterday they continue to look for the suspect believed responsible for as many as eight bank robberies in supermarkets since May.

Police believe the male suspect robbed two of the banks Sunday in Rockville — one in the new King farm neighborhood and the other near the Old Navy store on Rockville Pike.

“We believe [the robberies] are connected, but we do not have the hard evidence,” said Lucille Baur, spokeswoman for Montgomery County Police.

Each of the eight robberies happened at a bank inside a supermarket, and the pattern is the same each time, Ms. Baur also said.

In each case, the single robber has been described as a black male about 5 feet 11 inches tall, 180 pounds and wearing a variety of disguises.

On Sunday, the robber entered the Sun Trust bank inside a Rockville Safeway store at about 1:30 p.m. and waited in line.

A photo released by police shows the robber wearing a black motorcycle helmet. When he reached the teller window, he quietly displayed a handgun and said, “Give me all the money,” according to police.

The man fled the store, in the 400 block of Redland Boulevard, on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Ruby Arrieta was working a register at the time and remembers that the store was especially busy.

“I did not know the bank had even been robbed until I saw the police,” she said.

The bank management would not comment on the robbery.

About 30 minutes later, a man matching that description approached a teller in the Chevy Chase Bank inside the Giant Food store on the 12000 blockof Rockville Pike. He again displayed a handgun, demanded cash and fled on foot.

“What concerns us is that [the suspect] is using a handgun and the potential [for harm] is there,” Officer Derek Baliles of the Montgomery County Police said. “It is also in a far more public place than a traditional bank.”

Police suspect the robberies Sunday are linked to two others in Montgomery County: one on May 27 at a Sun Trust Bank in a Briggs Chaney Safeway and one on June 3 at an American Bank inside a Super Fresh in Silver Spring.

Police from Anne Arundel, Charles, Prince Georges and Howard counties met yesterday to compare notes and determine whether similar robberies in their jurisdictions are connected.

“It is very traumatic for us when a bank is robbed,” said Daphney Ado-Ado, branch manager of the Chevy Chase Bank in Rockville. She was not working during the robbery.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 800/ 673-2777 or the Robbery Section at 240/ 773-5100. A cash reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for the information leading to an arrest and indictment.

“We ask the public to be on the lookout for something that does not look quite right,” Ms. Baur said. “We definitely have seen a pattern, and we will do everything we can to catch this suspect.”

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