Five armed robberies in the past two weeks -- three apparently committed by the same gunman -- have prompted police to issue safety tip sheets to county businesses.
Police said armed robberies are on theupswing in 1991, with more than 45 reported through July, compared to about 35 for the same period last year.
The most recent robbery was carried out at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Columbia Liquors store in the 6700 block of Old Columbia Pike. Twomen robbed an undisclosed amount of money after threatening an employee with a handgun, police said. Both men fled into the rear parking lot of the building, near Donleigh Drive.
The same gunman is believed to have committed two robberies in Ellicott City on July 23 and July 25.
The July 23 robbery occurred at the Avanti's pizza shop inthe 9300 block of U.S. 40. The second was at the Great Tape Escape music store in the 4800 block of Waterloo Road. In both of those incidents, police said, the gunman was alone.
Police described him as awhite male in his late teens or early 20s, approximately 5-foot-9 and weighing 160 to 170 pounds. He has light brown hair, and in two of the incidents reportedly wore a hoop earring in his left ear.
Two other county robberies last week appear to have been committed by a separate gang of armed robbers operating in the Baltimore metropolitanarea, county police spokesman Sgt. Gary L. Gardner said.
The first was reported July 27 at the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn in the 8500 block of U.S. 40. The second happened Monday at the Crab Shanty on U.S. 40 at Plum Tree Drive, police said.
In both incidents, three men wearing masks barged into the businesses at closing time and robbed employees.
Police believe the same robbers have robbed five restaurants in Baltimore County and another in Baltimore City since June 23.
Due to the large number of recent robberies, county police crime prevention officers are contacting numerous county businesses on the heavily traveled corridors of U.S. 1 and U.S. 40, Gardner said.
The businesses are being given a booklet, "What You Should Know About Commercial Armed Robbery," which details basic strategies to prevent hold-ups, Gardner said.
Some of the tips provided in the booklet are:
* Before closing, check the office, back rooms, bathrooms and other areas to make sure on one is hiding there. While taking out trash or locking up, be especially careful.
* Side and back doors shouldbe locked at all times.
* Be wary about keeping a weapon at the business. The chances of injury are great.
* Keep photos of all employees and former employees, if possible. A surprising number of armed robberies involve former employees.