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Stores hit by robbers

November 27, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Three convenience stores were robbed within 36 hours in Berkeley County, the first by a man wearing a mask similar to those in the horror movie "Scream," and the most recent two by a man wielding a crowbar or tire iron.

Nobody was injured in any of the robberies, said Lt. K.C. Bohrer of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

The first robbery was at around 1 a.m. Monday at the 7-Eleven on W.Va. 9 outside Hedgesville. That robber had a gun and wore the "Scream" mask, Bohrer said. One employee at the store was placed in a freezer, while a second was forced to open the cash drawer, police said.

Witnesses, including the two clerks and a store customer, described the robber as a white man wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, who fled on foot, Bohrer said.

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The most recent robberies both happened on Tuesday, the first at 3 a.m. at a Texaco station in Martinsburg off Interstate 81.

A white man wielding a silver-colored tire iron or crowbar entered the gas station wearing a scarf over his face, Bohrer said.

Police were at the station five minutes earlier, and arrived within a minute of the hold-up alarm, Bohrer said. A K-9 tracked the robber's scent but lost it behind the store near a hotel, where the robber may have gotten into a car, police said.

That robber wore a gray sweatshirt and jeans, Bohrer said.

Five hours later, at Shanghai Grocery, a store in a remote section of the county, a man wearing similar clothing walked in, also with a crowbar or tire iron, Bohrer said.

Because the store is a spot where hunters can check their deer, three clerks were working, Bohrer said. In that robbery, the man did not cover his face, allowing police to put together a composite sketch.

Two hunters approaching the store saw the robber, and followed his smaller white SUV, which had West Virginia plates, until they lost sight of him on Back Creek Valley Road, Bohrer said. A woman, who had blonde or light red hair, was in the car with the robber, Bohrer said.

Bohrer said the last two robberies could have been committed by the same man, but police were not sure whether the Monday robbery at the 7-Eleven was connected.

The motive may have been the same in all of the robberies, he said.

"This time of year you kind of, I hate to say it, you anticipate having convenience store robberies," he said. "The holidays just seem to be the time when everybody needs a little cash flow."

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