Three people are in custody after a high-speed police chase on the Capital Beltway. Police said the trio is linked to a months-long spate of smash-and-grab ATM robberies around the D.C. area.
After a series of armed robberies in which a pickup truck smashed through 7-Eleven storefronts in an attempt to haul off ATMs, law enforcement placed surveillance teams near several of the convenience chain’s franchises, Montgomery County police spokesman Rick Goodale told WTOP’s Melissa Howell.
At 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, officers monitoring a 7-Eleven on Lockwood Drive in White Oak, Maryland, saw three people pull up in two vehicles and prepare for what appeared to be an armed robbery, police said.
The officers intervened before the suspects could enter the store, and two of the suspects fled on foot and were subsequently caught.
A high-speed chase began for the third suspect, who fled down U.S. 29 and Cherry Hill Road in a pickup truck. The pursuit led officers onto the Capital Beltway, where the suspect continued for about 3 miles before crashing into a tractor-trailer near the Maryland Route 201/Kenilworth Avenue interchange.
The chase forced the Outer Loop to briefly shut down right before the busy morning commute.
UPDATE: Police say chase began in White Oaks, ended on Beltway around 4am. Connected to a string of ATM robberies in Montgomery Co. & DC over 2-3 months. Police were on surveillance detail at a 7-11 when 3 suspects attempted an armed robbery. Chase ensued, suspects arrested @WTOP pic.twitter.com/f921mMMQy6
— Melissa Howell (@Mhowell003) May 7, 2019
Area resident Pauline Payne told WTOP that her heart started beating fast when she heard the news.
“All I could think about was the staff that works here. They’re so pleasant, they’re so nice,” she said.
Payne is a regular at the 7-Eleven, frequently stopping there to get coffee, both before and after work. Now, with the arrests, she thinks she has less to be concerned over.
“I don’t have to worry about coming in the store and then all of the sudden a car or a truck comes up into the store. I don’t have those kinds of worries,” Payne said.
Tuesday’s arrests came after multiple robberies in Northeast D.C., Prince George’s County and Montgomery County since February, all involving three suspects who carried out the crimes in a similar manner.
Two people, wearing black and covering their faces, would walk into a 7-Eleven and order employees to the floor. A third person would then back up a truck up through the storefront, so that the other two could load up an ATM in the back.
“If it is the same guys … it does appear that they are honing their game a little,” Montgomery County Police Capt. C. Thomas Jordan told WTOP after two successful heists in Silver Spring and Cloverly in late April.
At the time, police had not identified suspects but were working with 7-Eleven to proactively monitor stores in hope of catching the perpetrators.
“Some of it’s about crime prevention, and some of it’s about trying to get ahead of it,” Jordan said.
WTOP’s Melissa Howell reported from Greenbelt, Maryland. WTOP’s Will Vitka and John Domen contributed to this report.