When two armed robbers burst into a Glen Burnie restaurant early Friday morning, Nancy Hann's quick thinking prevented her and another employee from spending the night in a walk-in freezer where the temperature drops to about 10 degrees below zero.
Hann and Larry Johns were closing the Bob's Big Boy restaurant in the 7000 block of Ritchie Highway at about midnight when the robbers, armed with sawed-off shotguns, rushed through the doors.
After taking the money, the robbers wanted to lock Johns and Hannin the walk-in freezer.
"I told them it didn't lock," said Hann, the manager. "I said the only thing that does lock is the storeroom."
The gunmen bought her story and settled for the room that locks from the inside. Hann said she and Johns were in there about five minutes before the gunmen left and they came out to call police.
Friday's robbery was the fourth in the county and part of a string of 13 holdups that have occurred since June in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County.
Police spokesman Sgt. James Moore said investigators believe that all of the robberies here are being done by the group that also is hitting restaurants in neighboring counties.
"But there is always the possibility of a copy-cat," he said.
Moore said in all of the incidents, the robbers were armed with sawed-off shotguns and forced the employees into the walk-in freezer.
Hann said the bandits got into the restaurant when Johns walked two other employees out to their car.
"I think they were hiding in the bushes when Larry came back in," she said.
She said they rushed in and pointed the shotguns at her.
They were wearing pantyhose over their faces and their hands were covered with men's socks, police said.
"He(one of the gunmen) was hollering at me to open the safe," Hann said. "It took me about 10 minutes I was so nervous."
She said she thought the gunmen were going to kill her and Johns, but they told her they were "not there to hurt anyone."
They emptied the money from the safe into a trash can, she said, and after she and Johns were in the storeroom, they fled with the cash.
On Tuesday, a Wendy's in the 700 block of Nursery Road in Linthicum was robbed at about 1:15 a.m.
During that incident, an employee was leaving for the night whena man with a sawed-off shotgun approached and another man ordered him back inside.
They demanded money and then forced the man into the walk-in freezer, police said.
In another series of robberies in the northern and eastern sections of the county, police have arrestedRandall Paul Shreve, 23, of the 1600 block of Furnace Drive in Glen Burnie and Jeffrey Allen Barnes, 23, of the 100 block of Lockleven Drive in Severna Park.
Both men have been charged with robbing the Village Cleaners, in the 3000 block of Mountain Road in Pasadena, Aug.3; the Mountain Road Card Shop, in the 2400 block of Mountain Road in Pasadena, Aug. 6; Granny and Friend's, in the 800 block of Crain Highway in Glen Burnie, Aug. 7; and Hair Talk, in the 3400 block of North Crain Highway in Bowie, Aug. 8.
Shreve was arrested Wednesday in Prince George's County. He was being held in the county detention center there on a $5,000 bond. Barnes was being held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.