Suspect arrested in ATM holdups

Staff WriterJuly 24, 2008 

— Police have charged a Durham man with robbing ATM customers in Raleigh and Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

Keith Robert Webster Jr., 23, was also charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction (a sawed-off shotgun).

He was arrested and charged shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, after Raleigh police responded to reports of a robbery at the ATM of Wachovia Bank at 3959 New Bern Ave. and an attempted robbery at the ATM of the Bank of America at 321 Oberlin Road.

While investigating the New Bern Avenue case, officers learned a third robbery had occurred at a car wash across the street from that bank, according to a press release from Raleigh police.

The descriptions of the robber and his car were the same in all three cases, and a sawed-off shotgun was reportedly used in each of the crimes, according to police. A short time after the robbery on Oberlin Road, Raleigh Police Officer D.A. Ford saw a beat-up blue or gray sedan matching the vehicle description given by victims traveling outbound on Hillsborough Street near Interstate 440.

Ford followed the vehicle until other officers joined him. They stopped the car near the State Fairgrounds. Police subsequently reported the arrest to Chapel Hill police, who charged Webster with a holdup that occurred about 2:40 p.m. at an ATM at the RBC Centura Bank on Willow Drive in Chapel Hill.

In that case, an ATM customer had walked back to his vehicle when he saw the robber sitting in a car next to his. The robber held a shotgun on his lap and demanded money, then demanded that the victim return to the ATM to withdraw more money, Chapel Hill police said. Afterward, the robber fled in his car.

Chapel Hill Police Investigator Lee Sparrow has said that robbery appears related to two others in Chapel Hill on Sunday evening. A Durham woman has also claimed she was robbed by a suspect fitting Webster's description at a car wash on N.C. 55 not far from her home. Webster has not been charged in any of those crimes.

"He's still a person of interest," Sparrow said. "I have to get my victims from over the weekend and put him in a lineup and see if they can pick him out. ... If they can, then I can go ahead and charge him."

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or (919) 932-8760

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