Police suspect 'copycat' robbed synagogue

March 07, 1997|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County police are blaming a "copycat" for a synagogue robbery in Randallstown yesterday morning -- the second in less than 24 hours -- but investigators said the incidents are not being investigated as hate crimes.

"We just want to emphasize that these crimes are not anti-Semitic in nature," said police spokesman Bill Toohey. "There have been no ethnic slurs or comments made. These are common criminals taking advantage of an opportunity."

The latest holdup took place about 10 a.m. yesterday at Randallstown Synagogue Center in the 8700 block of Church Lane when the robber -- described as a man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 11 inches tall -- walked into the synagogue through an unlocked door.

He confronted Shirley Stein, a 74-year-old synagogue secretary, in an office and demanded money. When she said she did not have any, the robber pushed her down, Toohey said, and took her purse with about $50 in it.

Stein's assailant wore a brown leather jacket, gloves and a knit cap. He did not have a weapon.

Toohey said investigators are working on the theory that the culprit in the synagogue robbery yesterday heard of the Wednesday night holdup at Adath Yeshurun Congregation at Old Court and Rolling roads through media reports and figured that a synagogue with a few elderly people inside would be an easy target.

In the Adath Yeshurun incident, Rabbi Simcha Shafran, 67, and three others were in a study room at the synagogue about 9 p.m. when two men walked in through an unlocked back door.

Toohey said the robbers took $40 from the rabbi and $36 from Joseph Friedenberg, 70.

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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