FBI may aid in robberies probe Home invasions 'getting uglier'

September 14, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Several area police departments and the FBI are considering forming a task force to investigate a series of brazen attacks in homes of wealthy people by a team of masked men believed to have taken more than $100,000 in jewelry and cash.

The idea for a task force came out of a meeting Friday between FBI agents and area police detectives, who are investigating a possible link between robberies in Roland Park, Pikesville, Potomac and Bethesda.

In the latest home-invasion robbery last Tuesday in Guilford, one of the intruders raped a 56-year-old woman while her husband was forced at gunpoint to show the other two bandits where valuables were kept.

"It's getting uglier, and there's talk of forming a task force whereby the FBI would become involved," said Andy Manning, a spokesman for the FBI's Baltimore office.

The robberies typically involve three gunmen dressed in black who tie up homeowners and loot the houses. The sexual assault was the first reported, causing investigators to fear that the robbers are becoming more violent.

Friday's meeting was attended by detectives from Baltimore City, Baltimore and Montgomery counties, and the FBI. Federal authorities may assist in trying to track the stolen jewelry across state lines, Mr. Manning said.

Agent Doug Price, a city police spokesman, said the detectives met Friday to "have an exchange of ideas on how to approach this. There's every indication the same guys are involved. In every case, there were three guys who wore ski masks, bandannas and gloves. In every case, they sought jewelry and money."

In each incident, several thousand dollars worth of jewelry and cash was taken after the intruders barged into the house, usually through an unlocked door. In all the cases the victims were couples, at least 50 years old, who were tied up by the intruders.

Similar robberies occurred in the Pikesville area on July 1 in the first block of Springbriar Lane, and July 26 in the first block of Whisperwood Court. The Roland Park robbery occurred Aug. 6 in the 5500 block of Roland Ave.

Ann Evans, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman, said detectives there are investigating two similar robberies in which the bandits sought jewelry and cash:

* On Aug. 11, a couple living in the 1000 block of Marcliff Road in Bethesda reported they were robbed by three men carrying handguns. The intruders gained entry by prying open a rear set of French doors. They tied up the couple and a relative who was in the house at the time.

* On June 13, a couple in the 11400 block of Big Piney Way in Potomac were robbed by two men toting handguns.

If there is a connection between all the robberies, it would be an unusually large area of operations for the criminals, said Mr. Manning, the FBI spokesman.

"It's rare to see criminals with that wide a sphere of influence," he said. "If it is the same bunch, they're very organized and are looking for very specific areas to hit."

The robberies have struck fear in the communities where they've occurred.

More than 100 Guilford residents attended a community meeting called after last week's attack and many contributed to a $5,000 reward fund, said Stuart M. Brooks, a Guilford resident who organized the gathering.

"People were very angry. . . . We met and talked about ways to protect ourselves, like keeping the doors locked and keeping the porch lights on," Mr. Brooks said.

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