Police are investigating a series of 10 armed robberies that have occurred in the county in the last four days.
"It is unusual," police spokesman Officer V. Richard Molloy said. "Even for the holiday season, and we're not even close to that yet."
Molloy said the number of armed robberies is up dramatically thisyear. A year ago the county experienced 40 robberies and armed robberies in October, compared with 55 last month.
Among the robberies was the holdup of a 14-year-old boy, who told police a man armed witha gun tried to rob him of his hat and coat Tuesday. The same day, a man robbed a Severna Park clothing store, then asked the clerk to show him a suit with a 33-inch waist.
In August, police in three counties were investigating a series of 12 armed robberies of fast-food restaurants in which the employees were rounded up and herded into walk-in freezers.
But convenience stores and fast-food restaurants weren't the only targets. Two months ago, two men were arrested and charged with holding up an Odenton post office and getting away with money orders and $2,900 in stamps.
The recent spate of robberies includes fast-food restaurants and pedestrians in parking lots of shopping centers or near automated teller machines.
"There is no rhyme orreason to a lot of these," said Sgt. George Johnson, head of the county police robbery squad. "There are not a whole lot of patterns."
Johnson said his investigators routinely look for links, but there is no evidence to indicate that any of the recent holdups are connected.
"This time of year is notoriously the beginning of the robbery season," Johnson said. "I would say that is part of the problem. The other part is the downturn in the economy. And we do have a drug problem. All that together is painting the picture."
Six of the robberies occurred since Wednesday afternoon, the first at a Subway shop inthe 3400 block of Fort Meade Road in Laurel. Police said a man with a small revolver demanded money from a clerk at about 4:40 p.m.
The man got away with an undetermined amount of cash and ran toward theback of the Maryland City Shopping Center.
A second Subway shop, located in Glen Burnie, was robbed about four hours later. Police said two men, one armed with a chrome revolver, demanded all the money from the cash register. The men put the money into a plastic bag and ran out of the store.
The clerk told police she saw the men leave the area in a white Pontiac or Oldsmobile with Pennsylvania license plates.
Four people were robbed at gunpoint in separate incidents Wednesday night and yesterday morning, police said.
The first, Jimmie Lee Johnson, 20, of Baltimore was walking on the shoulder of the road on Ritchie Highway near Waterford Road inPasadena at about 6:15 p.m. when two men approached from behind. One was armed with a revolverand demanded money. Johnson handed his wallet over, and the pair took out a $10 bill and gave the wallet back.
A 34-year-old woman wasrobbed of $30 an hour later in the parking lot of the Elkridge National Bank, in the Cromwell Field Shopping Center in Glen Burnie, as she walked away from the bank's automated teller machine. She was approached by a man with a knife who demanded all her money. The man droveoff in a dark sports car, possibly a Datsun 280ZX, driven by anotherman.
Just before 8 p.m., two men stole a 22-year-old Millersvillewoman's purse. Police said the woman was walking on Mountain Road near the Southdale Shopping Center in Glen Burnie when one of the men pointed a black object that looked like a gun at her. The two left thearea in a small car, possibly a Volkswagen, eastbound on Mountain Road.
The latest robbery occurred around 4 a.m. yesterday, when Hasmukh Patel, 39, was held up as he entered the Parkway Hotel in Hanover.
Police said a man approached Patel, the night desk clerk at the hotel, and pointed a small dark handgun at him and demanded money. Patel handed over about $180 from the register and $7 from his wallet.
The suspect was last seen running toward Dorsey Road.