RALEIGH — Wake County sheriffs deputy investigators and Raleigh detectives are comparing notes in an effort to determine if a series of robberies and kidnappings last week were committed by the same man.
The spree of kidnappings and robberies five in all began early last Sunday morning near the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Durant roads. The last two occurred late last week in parts of the county just outside the city limits and are being investigated by the Wake County Sheriffs Office.
Sheriffs spokesman Capt. James Stevens said it would be speculative to say the crimes are related, but police spokesman Jim Sughrue said there are numerous commonalities with all five cases.
The robberies and abductions were all carried out after dark by a man with a handgun. In several of the incidents, the man approached women who were standing near vehicles in their driveways and forced them to drive to an ATM in their own vehicles and withdraw cash before driving them back home. In two cases, the man later abandoned the victims vehicles in the neighborhood where they live.
There are numerous common threads, Sughrue said. Obviously, until the suspect has been identified and arrested, we cant say for sure if the cases are related.
Neither Sughrue or Stevens would comment on steps being taken to solve the cases.
Rest assured that a variety of investigative measures are being used, Sughrue said.
Investigators have not released a detailed physical description of the suspects in any of the cases. In the first three, the mans face was obscured by a black motorcycle helmet with a full-face shield or an orange and yellow zip-up jacket. In those cases, police could say only that the suspect is a black man standing about 6 feet tall with a medium build.
In the final case, an attempted robbery outside a house in the 4900 block of Wynneford Way on Friday night, the gunman wore a 3-D mask which he removed as he was leaving, according to Stevens. The woman identified the man as a black man with light-colored or brown skin and very closely cut hair, he said.
The sheriffs office has released no information about a possible suspect in the fifth case, in which an armed man kidnapped a woman in a neighborhood near Umstead Park at about 8:45 p.m. Thursday and made her drive to a Wells Fargo ATM at 3301 Edwards Mill Road.
The man physically assaulted victims in at least two of the cases, and Sughrue cautioned that the level of violence could increase if the crime spree continues.
Anytime an armed suspect is involved in a crime, the potential for violence and someone being injured escalates, he said. Robbery by its nature is a violent crime. Just because he has not harmed someone physically in these cases does not mean that he will not harm someone.
Sughrue reminded residents to pay close attention to their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity or people in their neighborhoods.
Police urge anyone with information about the robberies and kidnappings to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at 919-834-4357 or visit www.raleighcrimestoppers.org for text and e-mail reporting options.