Authorities in Northern Virginia are searching for a female suspected of robbing three Chevy Chase banks in the area. The latest robbery occurring midafternoon Sunday, Aug. 28, at a Giant grocery store in the Town Center Plaza, Sterling.
Surveillance cameras and witness reports in all three banks have provided enough evidence to suggest the crimes may be related, according to law-enforcement officials. The suspect is a described as being a white female in her early 20s. Her body size is estimated at 5 feet 7 inches, 145 pounds and she has been seen at all three locations wearing jeans, a polo shirt and a bucket-styled fisherman’s hat. Also consistent is the method of these robberies — passing a note, which authorities believe might demand money while also implying that the suspect has a weapon.
THE FIRST ROBBERY occurred at 12:50 p.m., at a Chevy Chase Bank inside a Giant grocery store in Manassas, Friday, Aug. 26. According to 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn of the Prince William County Police, the suspect handed over a note but did not display a weapon.
The same technique was used a few hours later when an Annandale Chevy Chase Bank was robbed by a woman matching the same description. Surveillance cameras at this location were able to capture an image of the suspect.
"I think the fact that we have a photo is a great lead," said Mary Mulrenan, public information officer for Fairfax County Police.
With the third robbery occurring the following Sunday in Sterling, authorities from Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties are working together to capture the suspect.
"We are currently sharing information with Fairfax and Prince William County, as well as the F.B.I.," said Kraig Troxell, public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
While not confirmed, authorities believe that the assailant is a local resident. The frequency of the robberies and knowledge of the area suggests this, according to the authorities.
"She may be familiar with the area," said Troxell. "She knew that there was a bank inside the grocery store and that it was open on Sunday."
Troxell also said that if the suspect is a local resident there is a chance that someone might recognize her photograph and provide more information.
THE FACTS SURROUNDING the case are rare for traditional bank robberies. The most notable rarity is the gender of the suspect. While female bank robbers aren’t unheard of, they are less common than males, said authorities.
"It's strange that we’ve seen two out of the past three bank robberies committed by women," said Troxell of recent Loudoun County cases. "It's definitely an oddity."
While this investigation continues, victims are reminded to contact their local authorities as soon as possible. This not only heightens the security of the scene, but raises the chances of a suspect’s capture.
"Many times businesses will call their manager or owner before they notify us," said Chinn. "We recommend against that."