Presidential bandits strike Arundel bank

September 03, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The well-dressed robbers who disguise themselves as former U.S. presidents struck again yesterday for the fourth time in nine days in Anne Arundel County, breaking their pattern of %o restaurant holdups by robbing a bank.

At 12:30 p.m., two men -- one posing as Richard Nixon and the other as Ronald Reagan -- walked into the First National Bank of Maryland on College Parkway in Arnold and forced employees and customers to the floor at gunpoint.

One of the holdup men walked behind the counter and stole an undetermined amount of money from two of four teller drawers, police said. No one was reported injured.

"The only thing I can think of is the movie 'Point Break,' " said Sgt. George Johnson, head of the Anne Arundel robbery unit.

was referring to the 1992 film in which a group of beach bums staged robberies disguised as former presidents.

"Other than that, I don't know what the connection to presidents is," he said, adding that police are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. "We're working a lot of hours on this one."

In the past few weeks, Severna Park merchants have been shaken not only by the string of holdups but by the murder Aug. 25 of Charles H. Willis, 21, who was gunned down in a Dunkin' Donuts shop on Ritchie Highway in a dispute over a dime-store pen.

Members of the Severna Park Chamber of Commerce and Greater Severna Park Council met last night at the local library.

"Our position is we're going to work together with the police. We're going to help them the best we can," said Linda Zahn, executive director of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce. "We're tired of this crime. We want to put this behind us."

Barbara Baumgartner, owner of Side Street Framers in the Park Plaza shopping center, said she is "very concerned."

"It's always been an excellent community," she said last night. "The people involved in this have to be from somewhere else."

Although the holdup yesterday differed from the restaurant robberies, Anne Arundel police said they believe the same people are involved in all the cases.

Yesterday was the first time that two men have showed up at the same place and the first time the robbers were armed with shotguns.

In the previous three robberies, all at restaurants, a single man was armed with a revolver. In two cases, the robber wore a Nixon mask, and in one case, a Reagan mask.

"The two men could have been working together the whole time," said Officer Terry Crowe, a county police spokesman.

Police said they have few clues, though investigators now have a getaway car.

Officers scouring the area east of Ritchie Highway after yesterday's holdup in the Bay Dale Shopping Center found a burned Volkswagen behind a vacant restaurant off U.S. 50 east of Annapolis.

The car, which had been reported stolen weeks ago, matches the description of the getaway car in the robbery Tuesday of a Subway sandwich shop in the Arnold Station Shopping Center on Ritchie Highway, about a mile and a half from the First National Bank.

In Tuesday's incident, a woman was believed to be the driver of the getaway car. She was not seen yesterday.

In each case, the suspects were well dressed, either in dark suits or sports jackets.

Sergeant Johnson said investigators also believe that the robbery last year of a Little Caesar's restaurant in the 400 block of Ritchie Highway in Severna Park by a man wearing a Richard Nixon mask may be related.

That same restaurant was held up Sunday about 8:30 p.m., this time by a man wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. The first of the latest holdups occurred Aug. 24 at the Shangri-La restaurant in Severna Park.

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