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Suspect questioned in ‘polite’ robbers case

March 26, 1997

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) _ Police in one of Maryland’s wealthiest neighborhoods believe they have cracked a series of armed break-ins by two dressed-in-black gunmen dubbed the ``polite robbers.″

A suspect was apprehended Tuesday morning following a high-speed chase in this affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., but another remains at large.

Two armed men who seemed to have British or Australian accents have staged eight robberies since January, entering the homes using garage door openers left in cars or through unlocked doors.

The suspect’s name was not released, pending formal filing of charges.

The masked robbers demanded cash from the homeowners at gunpoint, but harmed no one.

They left one house empty-handed on Sunday after the owners could produce just $6 in cash. The robbers gave it back.

One victim described the duo as ``polite,″ and another told The Washington Post that the gunmen were so nice he felt bad that he did not have more cash on hand.

``We don’t consider them to be gentlemen bandits, we consider them to be armed robbers,″ said Montgomery County, Md., police department spokeswoman Ann Evans.

A homeowner whose alarm system was activated by intruders trying to enter his house called police just before 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Officers who raced to the scene spotted a Nissan Pathfinder leaving the scene with its headlights off.

A high-speed chase ended when the suspects’ stolen vehicle crashed into a tree on the lawn of a home. The two occupants fled on foot. One was captured, and police launched a manhunt for the other, with helicopters overhead and scores of officers searching on foot with dogs.

``There are a lot of similarities between the suspect in custody and the suspects we’ve been looking for,″ said Police Chief Carol Mehrling.

``He does not seem to speak with an accent,″ added police spokesman George Ludington. ``However, we always said that we weren’t sure whether it was a put-on or real.″

Police said walkie-talkies, bulletproof vests and flashlights were found in the suspects’ vehicle.

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