Man arrested in ATM robberies

Staff WritersJune 29, 2007 

Police say Omar Cortez Sharpe has abducted women.

  • Anyone with information about these cases is urged to call the Cary Police Department at 469-4017, the Raleigh Police Department at 890-3555, or the Wake County Sheriff's Office at 856-6800.

    SAFETY ADVICE

    Police offered tips to help residents, particularly women, avoid potential threats.

    * Walk with a friend.

    * Always carry a cell phone.

    * Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to any banks or ATMs you go to.

    * Make sure ATMs are well-lit and try to visit drive-up ATMs.

    * Stay in your car.

    * If you see suspicious activity or see anyone who appears suspicious, call 911 and go to another ATM.

— Police arrested a man Thursday they say is responsible for two kidnappings and armed robberies involving women and ATMs earlier this week -- part of a 12-day crime spree that included two rapes.

Police charged Omar Cortez Sharpe, 26, of Wilmington in connection with two abductions and multiple robberies that occurred Monday afternoon and Wednesday night.

On Monday, a man armed with a handgun entered a woman's car at the Wal-Mart at 1725 New Hope Church Road, said police spokesman Jim Sughrue. The man forced her to drive to an ATM in Mini City, where she withdrew $530.

The man also took the woman's cell phone and a cigarette lighter, then ordered her to drive to Triangle Towne Center, where he got out, Sughrue said.

The latest robbery occurred Wednesday at 9 p.m. when a woman and her 5-year-old daughter went to a restaurant in the Tower Shopping Center on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.

The woman told police that when she and her daughter returned to their sport utility vehicle with a carry-out food order, a man who had been hiding in the back of the vehicle climbed into the back seat. The man forced the woman to drive at gunpoint back to the shopping center, where he ordered her to go to an ATM and withdraw cash, police reported.

While the woman was out of the SUV, the man got behind the wheel. After she returned, he drove away with the woman and child inside. He immediately turned around and headed back to the ATM where he demanded she withdraw more money, police reported.

The robber then drove to another area of the shopping center, got out and fled on foot, police reported.

Sughrue said Sharpe is also charged in the following crimes.

* On June 16, Sharpe is suspected of abducting a woman in Wilmington. The victim was taken to Raleigh and raped in a wooded area near Bonneville Court. Shortly after 10 a.m., the victim was released nearby and the perpetrator took her car. He was armed with a handgun during the attack.

* On Sunday, Sharpe is charged with abducting a woman who was leaving an apartment on Hylton Drive about 4 a.m. A man pushed the victim into the vehicle, took her car keys and drove her away from the apartment complex's parking lot. After driving around in the area for a short time, the man took the victim to the Green Road Park, where he raped her.

After the rape, the man ordered the victim back into the car. He again began to drive, but the victim managed to escape and to summon help from Raleigh police officers she found in the area. After the victim escaped, the suspect fled in her car. The man was armed with a handgun during this attack, Sughrue said.

* In the Monday kidnapping and robbery from the Wal-Mart, investigators determined that the robber forced the victim to make another ATM withdrawal, prompting an additional robbery charge. The abduction occurred at 1:30 p.m., Sughrue said.

Raleigh police took Sharpe into custody without incident shortly after noon Thursday at Tower Shopping Center.

Late Thursday, police charged Sharpe in an attempted kidnapping Monday at the Wal-Mart that is unrelated to the other incident there. A man entered a woman's vehicle saying he wanted a ride but fled after the woman managed to get out of the car, according to police.

Sharpe has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1998, with convictions on various assault and larceny charges. His most recent conviction was in 2005 for misdemeanor larceny.

(News researcher Lamara Hackett Williams contributed to this report.)

Staff writer Thomasi McDonald can be reached at 829-4533 or thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver.com.

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