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Arrests made in robberies

March 27, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown man and three male juveniles have been charged in a series of strong-arm robberies that began in the city late last year, Hagerstown City Police said Tuesday.

Anthony Caldwell, 18, of 27 E. Lee St., turned himself in at the Hagerstown City Police station Tuesday morning. He was charged with five counts of robbery, Lt. Rick Johnson said.

Through Caldwell's arrest and other tips, police charged three juveniles, ages 17, 15 and 14, in connection with one or more of nine strong-arm robberies that began in November 2001 and continued to March 1, Johnson said.

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The four were friends who trolled city streets looking for vulnerable people to rob, police said. They either beat or intimidated their victims into giving them money, Johnson alleged.

"They waited until it was dark out and many times they hit from behind so we didn't have a good description," said Sgt. Mike King of the criminal investigation division.

King said some of the victims were intoxicated.

"They were easy targets," he said.

All of the robberies were committed between 7 p.m. and 12:45 a.m.

The robbers worked together, using their hands, and on one occasion a stick, to beat their victims, he alleged.

They took only money from their victims, he said.

In an effort to catch the robbers, officers posed as potential victims several times over the past few months but were never robbed, King said.

"It got real discouraging. The robberies kept occurring and we never got the break we were looking for," he said.

Eventually, information gained in several investigations helped police break the case, he said.

Police said Caldwell was charged earlier this month with a strong-arm robbery and subsequently released. He was later charged with assault in a separate incident and a warrant was issued, police said. It was through those investigations and others that police said they linked Caldwell to additional strong-arm robberies.

"It was just good police work," said Johnson, who compared the case to an elaborate puzzle that detectives finally were able to piece together.

In addition to King, officers Casey Younkers and Jason Ackerman and detectives Pat Moulton and Caroll Braun investigated the strong-arm robberies.

The robberies took place in the 200 block of Mulberry Street, the first block of North Locust Street, East Franklin and North Locust streets, East Antietam and South Mulberry streets, the first block of East Baltimore Street, South Locust Street and Matthew's Alley, South Locust and Lee streets, North Jonathan Street and West North Avenue, and North Potomac Street and Oak Hill Avenue.

Joanne Hood, owner of Market Lot Liquors, credited police with maintaining a strong presence in the Jonathan Street area, deterring groups from congregating. Their presence also makes juveniles who might try to buy alcohol at her store think twice, she said.

"We've had no problems here," she said.

Rudolph Russ, who has lived in the Jonathan Street community all his life, said he's "seen its ups and downs."

Tuesday's arrests give him confidence in the police department, he said.

Caldwell was charged with five counts of robbery, five counts of second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit robbery, theft, first-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

Caldwell was being held without bond Tuesday at the Washington County Detention Center, a deputy at the detention center said.

The 17-year-old was charged with five counts of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, second-degree assault and theft.

The 15-year-old and 14-year-old were charged with two counts each of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, theft and second-degree assault.

The juveniles, all from Hagerstown, were released to the custody of their parents.

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