Two gas stations in the Ashburn area were confronted with a "strong-arm" robber on the evening of Sept. 15. In both cases the suspect allegedly reached over the counter in attempt to pull money out of the cash register, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The first attempt, which occurred at 11:30 p.m., at the Sunoco in the Ashburn Shopping Plaza was thwarted when the attendant forcefully stopped the man from reaching into the register.
"Basically he walked in and acted like a customer," said Kraig Troxell, public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. "When he saw the cash register open, he reached over and tried to grab the money."
In the second attempt, which occurred a few minutes later at the Exxon on Farmwell Road, the suspect was able to grab a small amount of money before escaping from the station, according to the Sheriff's Office.
While it is believed that the suspect fled on foot, the police are not ruling out the possibility that he had access to a vehicle. Based on descriptions provided by witnesses and surveillance footage, both incidents are believed to involve the same man. He is described as a white male, approximately 5 feet 9 inches in height with a thin build. At the time of the incidents he was wearing a white T-shirt and sports pants.
Although the police are originally described the crime as a "strong-arm" robbery, based on the use of force instead of a weapon, the crime will most likely be considered a larceny because no one was injured, according to officials.
"We are leaning towards larceny because there was no assault and he didn’t harm anyone," said Troxell.
As for now, the Sheriff’s Office is releasing a still image from the surveillance footage in hopes that he might be recognized. They will also be checking previous crimes in the area.
"Sometimes people have done something in the past in this area — he might be local," said Troxell.
The suspicion that he may be local stems from the nature of the crime. According to Troxell, the use of brute force for small amounts of money usually means that the crime was an act of desperation from someone living in the community.
<1b>— Christopher M. Staten