Robbers in North Potomac might be causing traffic crashes to initiate crimes -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery County drivers should be extra cautious if they are involved in traffic collisions, at least until police arrest a pair of men they think are causing crashes to initiate robberies.

Montgomery County Major Crimes detectives think the same men rammed a white truck or SUV with Maryland tags, into vehicles along secluded stretches of road in North Potomac on April 3 and 14 to force the drivers to stop, said department spokeswoman Officer Janelle Smith.

“In light of these incidents, if you don’t feel right about it, don’t stop,” Smith said. “Contact police but don’t stop; go to a place that you know is safe and wait for police.”

The first incident was mistaken for a hit-and-run when the 49-year-old woman reported to police that a white truck or SUV had struck her Range Rover shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Jones Lane near Turkey Foot Road, Smith said.

“She felt as if she was deliberately rammed from behind so she decided not to just stop, she called the police,” Smith said. “The subjects in the striking vehicle saw her on the phone and they immediately drove away.”

Detectives began looking at that “accident” as more than just a hit-and-run after a 58-year-old man called police at 3:12 a.m. April 14 and told them he had just escaped from his trunk, where a pair of masked gunmen had locked him after he stopped to survey damage when they rear-ended his car, Smith said.

The victim’s Volvo was struck by a white truck or SUV with Maryland tags as he was driving along Jones Lane near Carry Back Drive, less than a mile from the scene of the first incident. When he got out to check his car, he was confronted by two masked men with a longer barrel rifle or shotgun and a knife who knocked him down, taped his wrists and ankles and locked him in his trunk, Smith said.

After taking the victim’s credit card and account information, the robbers drove the Volvo, with the victim in the trunk, to ATMs to withdraw cash, Smith said. After more than an hour, the men parked at Poplar Grove Baptist Church, 14625 Jones Lane, cut the tape off the man and shut him in his trunk and fled, Smith said.

“[The victim] was able to get out of the trunk using a lever in the trunk,” she said. “We don’t really have any description of [the robbers] other than they were males; I mean, it was dark and they had dark clothes and masks on.”

The man was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released for minor injuries. Detectives are reviewing the man’s account records to try to determine if any of the ATMs used by the robbers has surveillance footage they could use to help identify the criminals.

Anyone with any information or who might have witnessed the robbery — or the first incident — is asked to call the department’s Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

jarias@gazette.net