Bowling center robbers strike again

Manager, daughter abducted from home, forced to open safe

January 27, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Two armed men robbed an AMF Bowling Center just before midnight Monday after going to the manager's home and forcing him and his daughter at gunpoint to drive back to the Rolling Road facility and empty the safe, police said.

It was the seventh robbery by apparently the same two men at an AMF Bowling Center since August. Two other robbery attempts failed.

AMF Rolling Road Lanes Manager Norman E. Blackston and his daughter, Candice Marie Flint, who also works at the bowling alley, were not hurt, police said.

"This one is unique, because it's the same places that are targeted," said Lt. Bob Biggs, who commands the Baltimore County Police Department's robbery unit. "Apparently, these people wanted to target AMF."

Biggs and an AMF spokesman would not speculate about why the two men have been robbing the company intermittently for five months. Biggs said the same two might have robbed at least two McDonald's restaurants in the county since August.

Monday's robbery marked a shift in the robbers' usual method of approaching employees in the parking lot after the business had closed.

"Now they went from ambushing in the parking lot to getting the manager at his house," Biggs said. "We don't know why they changed it up."

The robbers are short men, according to witnesses, and except for the first robbery in mid-August, have worn hooded sweat shirts, masks and dark clothing.

They have brought bags to carry away the money, Biggs said, and usually have the same weapons: a silver handgun and a sawed-off shotgun.

In one of the robberies, Biggs said, a roster of employee names and addresses was taken from a bowling alley bulletin board, which could explain how the robbers found the manager's home.

Less clear is why they have chosen AMF, which operates 543 bowling alleys around the world, as their target.

"We've had robberies in the past but not to this extent," said Lloyd Wrisley, a regional vice president of the Richmond, Va.-based AMF Bowling Cos. He said the company is hiring an outside security consultant, adding increased security at the entry points and will make other changes to protect its employees.

The company is changing the schedule of bank deposits to thwart the robbers, he said.

"There just simply won't be any funds available," Wrisley said yesterday during a visit to the Rolling Road facility.

Police declined to say how much money has been stolen, but said the amount in each robbery ranged from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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