4 Pa. men held after robbery at White Marsh Mall jeweler Wild chase by officers follows 'smash and grab'

November 20, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Four Philadelphia men pursued by federal agents on a wild chase were being held yesterday on federal conspiracy charges after a "smash and grab" holdup at a White Marsh Mall jewelry store Monday morning.

Randolph Charles, 33; Horace Alsbrooks Jr., 19; Hassan Ross, 24; and Brahim Bethean, 20, were scheduled for a bail review hearing today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The men, charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy, crashed a van into a car on Interstate 95 in south Philadelphia and tried to elude police by heading for the Delaware River, according to court documents.

"I don't think they realized how cold it was," said FBI spokeswoman Linda Vizi. One suspect was pulled from the river by police and two others were caught just before they jumped in, she said.

The men are charged with robbing Littman's Jewelry Store.

Baltimore County police say three men used a sledgehammer to smash glass cases where expensive watches were kept.

The robbers ran out of the mall and got into a maroon Dodge van, according to witnesses, who gave police the license plate number.

County police Detective Sarah Ward recalled a similar robbery at the store three years ago by a group of Philadelphia thieves traveling up and down the East Coast. She notified the FBI that the van had been reported stolen from Philadelphia International Airport on Sunday and that the thieves could be heading back north.

According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, FBI Agents Jae Shim and Greg Horner waited along I-95 at the Delaware-Pennsylvania state line. About noon, they spotted the van and began following it. The agents and a local police officer tried to force the van's driver to stop.

But the driver hit the gas and the agents chased the van -- at speeds of about 90 mph -- into Philadelphia, where it crashed into a car near the Girard Avenue exit and the Delaware River, the affidavit said.

The suspects bailed out of the van and ran toward the river, said Vizi.

Alsbrooks jumped into the river while the agents caught two others at the river's edge. Bethean was caught a short time later on the roof of a downtown building, Vizi said.

Police found 15 watches -- including Rolex models -- inside and on the ground around the van, Vizi said.

"Smash and grab" robberies are unusual in Baltimore County, said police spokesman Bill Toohey. Only five have been reported in the county since the 1993 robbery at Littman's, he said.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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