Police form task force to fight business holdups

Sergeant, four detectives plan `multifaceted' effort

April 01, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Police Department announced yesterday it has formed a task force to help combat an increasing number of commercial robberies this year.

From Jan. 1 to March 22, a total of 65 robberies were reported in the county, compared with 29 in the same period last year and 52 for the like period in 1997, said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a county police spokesman.

Most robberies were committed with a semiautomatic handgun or by someone implying possession of a weapon, Carroll said.

"These are significant increases, much higher than previous years," he said. "We feel that a number of these robberies are being committed" by a small group of individuals, Carroll said.

The task force will consist of four detectives and Sgt. Karen Shinham of community policing, who will lead the group.

Shinham said they will take a "multifaceted approach" that will include using detectives to investigate a robbery and studying possible patterns of the most recent robberies.

"We thought it would be helpful to have people focusing just on commercial robberies," Shinham said.

Officials will also increase the number of patrols in commercial areas, Carroll added.

"In the past, we have handled robberies by saturating an area," Shinham said. "This time, we will hit the investigation side of things."

Shinham said no pattern has surfaced in the types of businesses robbed, but "our experience is that it is all somehow related to drugs."

Pub Date: 4/01/99

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