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Police: Robberies may be connected

February 25, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - At least nine police agencies in four states and the U.S. Marshals Service are investigating the possibility that several armed robberies in recent weeks are connected, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

The robberies include a Fidelity Bank in Washington County, a Waffle House in Inwood, W.Va., a gas station near Charles Town, W.Va., and several motels or hotels in Frederick County, Md., police said.

A meeting was held at the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Department on Thursday morning for police to share evidence and information to try to determine if the robberies are connected, police said.

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In addition to the sheriff's department, representatives from Jefferson County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Maryland State Police in Frederick, Md., the Frederick County Sheriff's Department, Frederick Police, Thurmont Police, Winchester, Va., police and the marshal's service attended the meeting, said Lt. K.C. Bohrer with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Police are investigating a possible connection between the cases because descriptions of the suspect are similar, said Trooper 1st Class Rick Bachtell with Maryland State Police in Frederick.

The pattern of the crime is consistent, Bohrer said.

A white man enters a place of business and asks for change or to buy an item, police said. When the clerk opens the register, the man displays a black handgun and reaches or climbs over the counter to grab cash out of the register before fleeing on foot, police said.

The robber in the three Thurmont robberies was described as a white man between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall with a dark goatee with some gray in it, Thurmont Police Chief T.N. Frushour said. He was wearing blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, Frushour said.

The Thurmont robberies were at Towne and Country Liquors on Water Street at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 17; at the Cozy Country Inn on Frederick Road at 10:50 p.m. on Feb. 20; and at the Super 8 Motel on Tippin Drive at 12:10 a.m. Thursday, Frushour said.

Investigator Chris Weaver with the Washington County Sheriff's Department said he was investigating the possibility that the robbery of a Fidelity Bank at Halfway Boulevard and Virginia Avenue on Jan. 31 was connected to other robberies in the area. That case has been turned over to the FBI, he said.

The FBI could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Other armed robberies being investigated by area police to see if they are connected include:

n The Econo Lodge on Md. 355 near Interstate 70 at 4 a.m. Thursday.

That robber was described as a white man in his 30s, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch, weighing 150 to 200 pounds and wearing blue jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt, Bachtell said.

n The Extended StayAmerica at 5240 Westview Drive in Frederick County at 7:14 a.m. Thursday.

n The Waffle House on W.Va. 51, between U.S. 11 and Interstate 81, at around 4:20 a.m. on Feb. 21.

n The H-Mart at New York Avenue and W.Va. 9 outside Martinsburg, W.Va., at around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 19.

n A Shell station on U.S. 340 North in Somerset Village outside Charles Town, W.Va., at around 1:20 a.m. on Feb. 21.

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