Baltimore County police say they have beefed up patrols in a Green Spring Valley neighborhood where two men invaded the exclusive home of a couple early Monday and terrorized them before making off with more than $250,000 worth of valuables.
Yesterday, police continued to search for the robbers, who escaped with jewelry, furs, cash and a luxury car. Investigators said Sheldon Goldseker, 52, and his wife, Shelley, 41, were handcuffed by the robbers -- one of whom was armed with a chrome-plated handgun -- and bound with duct tape.
The robbers fled with about 100 pieces of jewelry that included rings, necklaces, earrings, cuff links and three furs -- collectively valued at more than $200,000. Several thousand dollars in cash was also taken along with a Lexus automobile valued at $45,000, police said.
One of the men also sprayed a chemical irritant in Mrs. Goldseker's face before the pair fled in the victims' black Lexus car.
The robbery occurred about 7:30 a.m. Monday at the couple's home in the first block of Velvet Valley Court. The home is in heavy woods at the end of a long driveway.
Sheldon Goldseker is chairman of the Morris Goldseker Foundation of Maryland Inc., which last year dispensed $970,000 in grants to non-profit organizations for underprivileged children and the homeless. He is a nephew of the late landlord and philanthropist, Morris Goldseker.
E. Jay Miller, a Baltimore County spokesman, yesterday conceded that police had delayed releasing information about the robbery because the victims "wanted it handled quietly . . . without publicity" and because police were checking out a report of a car that had been seen near the house.
"I don't have any apologies. Our timetable is not yours," Mr. Miller told a reporter.
Mr. Miller also said officers in the department's Community Oriented Police Enforcement (COPE) unit had been sent to the neighborhood to calm the fears of residents and urge residents to report any suspicious activity.
Although some people living near the Goldsekers' house said the neighborhood had experienced a high number of burglaries in recent years, Mr. Miller and other police officials said the burglaries had not been especially numerous.
Police files show that so far this year, four burglaries have been reported in a large area bounded by Caves Road to the north, Greenspring Avenue to the East, Greenspring Valley Road to the south and Garrison Forest Road to the west. Twelve were reported in that area in 1991 and eight in 1990, Mr. Miller said.
Baltimore County Councilman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger III, D-3rd, said he planned to contact police officials to discuss the level of protection in the area.
"We have got to start taking our streets back," he said.
Mr. Miller said detectives have no leads in the Velvet Valley Court incident, which left the victims "frightened to death. . . . These people were singled out."
Mr. Miller said police have broadcast a lookout for the car, but that otherwise, they have "very little to go on."
He said Mr. Goldseker discovered one of the thieves in the garage. The owner was forced back into the house, where Mrs. Goldseker was attempting to call police.
Both victims were bound with plastic handcuffs and duct tape. Mr. Goldseker was put in an upstairs bathroom and his wife was put downstairs. Mr. Miller said one of the thieves threatened to shoot them if they made any noise.
The intruders searched the home, confiscated the couple's property and escaped in the Lexus, which police said has Maryland license tags ZFV-495. They left a Mercedes Benz in the garage because that car's alarm was triggered, police said.
The couple freed themselves and called police a few minutes later at 8 a.m., Mr. Miller said.
Police said one of the intruders wore a hooded jacket.
"They're very nice people," a neighbor, Don Benter, a Baltimore attorney, said of the Goldsekers, who were unavailable for comment. "I was home at the time but we didn't hear a thing."
Fred Greenberg, 62, lives on Velvet Valley Way several hundred yards from the scene of the robbery. He said his house has been burglarized four times in recent years and that he and his wife are moving.
"We've had to put our house up for sale," Mr. Greenberg said. "When I travel on business, my wife goes and stays at the Hilton because she is so afraid."
Ironically, Mr. Greenberg said, Mrs. Goldseker led a community drive to get Baltimore County to install lighting on the area's dark roads. Some residents voted against the idea, and the county said such lighting would be installed only if all community members wanted it.
Mr. Greenberg and other neighbors had installed lots of lighting on their properties.
At the nearby Jemicy School, several hundred yards south of the Goldseker property, the director, Stephen Wilkens, said the armed robbery might force him to "beef up surveillance" at the private school for dyslexic children.
"That was bold," Cpl. Paul Martin said of the robbery, because it occurred in an occupied home during daylight hours. He said most break-ins are committed when residents are away from home.