Police said Friday that they were looking for Wanda D. Battle, a 45-year-old woman who they believe helped rob local auto parts stores several times in the past two years.
According to Montgomery County police, a few days before Christmas in 2011, two people walked into an Advance Auto Parts store on Frederick Road in Gaithersburg, forced an employee to open a safe and used duct tape to tie up the employee.
On March 7, 2012, two people robbed the same store, police said. Then, on Sept. 16, 2012, an Advance Auto Parts on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park was robbed. In that case, a man and a woman walked into the store wearing uniforms from the tire store “Just Tires.”
According to police, the robbers threatened the store employees at gunpoint and restrained them using flex cuffs.
Investigators eventually identified one of the robbers as Steven Williams, 43, of Frederick. Williams had worked at Rockville Advance Auto, and later at “Just Tires.”
Police tied him to the crimes after searching his home and finding one of his fingerprints at one of the robbery scenes, according to a police press release regarding their search for Battle.
Terriet Williams, 36, of Washington, D.C., and Battle, Steven Williams’ sister, were later identified as suspects in the robberies as well, police said.
Police said that the two siblings and their cousin were involved in each robbery. In the first robbery, Battle was the getaway driver, according to Montgomery County Police Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti. In later robberies, Battle helped commit the robberies while one of the other two men acted as the getaway driver, Innocenti said.
Steven Williams and Terriet Williams, his cousin, have since been arrested and convicted of armed robbery and assault charges, but police have not been able to find Battle, who faces three counts of both armed robbery and first-degree assault.
Steven Williams is due to be sentenced in March 2014 in federal court. His attorney was not available for comment Monday.
In May, Terriet Williams received a sentence of 32 years in prison, with all but seven years suspended.
Police are asking for help in finding Battle and that anyone with information about her should call 1-866-411-8477.
Advance Auto is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to her arrest, police said.
Employees at the two stores that were robbed declined to speak to The Gazette, referring calls to the store’s corporate offices. Spokespeople there also declined to discuss the case.