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Armed robberies in city down

August 26, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

There have been 34 armed robberies in Hagerstown so far this year, putting the city on track to end 1999 with fewer heists than it has logged since 1994, Hagerstown City Police say.

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This year's 34 armed robberies were reported through Aug. 24. In all of 1998, police investigated 97 armed robberies, while 93 holdups were reported in 1997.

The city could finish the year with the lowest number of armed robberies since 1994, when 52 robberies were reported, according to Sgt. Jack Hall, who compiles the police department's records.

Interim Police Chief Capt. Robert Hart attributed the decrease to "good police work and an increased police presence."

The 34 armed robberies reported this year were not committed by 34 different people, Hart said.

Most of the crimes are the work of the same group of people, he said. Typically, if robbers are successful with one robbery, they continue robbing until they are caught, he said.

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One example is the Aug. 9 robberies at B.J.'s Market and Friendly Cafe in Hagerstown, police said.

In the robbery at B.J.'s Market, a man and woman entered the 438 W. Washington St. store and ordered a sandwich at 4:30 p.m. As the clerk prepared the food, a man went around the corner, showed the owner a handgun and demanded money, police said. The couple ran away with the cash.

Later that evening, two men went to the Friendly Cafe at 231 W. Franklin St. and ordered drinks. A few minutes later, one of the men displayed a gun. The other man grabbed money from the cash register, police said.

A Hagerstown man has been charged in both crimes.

Ron Pittsnogle, of Hagerstown, was one of eight or nine patrons inside the bar when the robbery took place.

"He put a gun to the barmaid's head and told us not to move," he said.

Pittsnogle said he feared for his life. "It was frightening," he said.

Pittsnogle said he remembers a similar robbery there more than 10 years ago.

He said he no longer feels safe in the city. "There's too much drugs and too many prostitutes," he said.

City Police charged Christopher Winkey Crudup, 30, of 160 W. Washington St., and Donald Wayne Cline, 18, no fixed address with the Friendly Cafe robbery.

Crudup also was charged with the B.J.'s Market crime, along with Christina D. Seal, 23, of no fixed address.

All three were arrested within a week of the crimes, police said.

City police received a tip that lead to the arrest of Crudup and Seal. Hall said that is a common way police solve crimes.

"Everybody will drop a dime on somebody," he said.

Oportunistic robbers tend to be unsophisticated and eventually make mistakes that lead to their arrests, he said.

Hall said there tend to be more armed robberies during the Christmas season because robbers need money to buy presents.

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