Armed robbers target thrift stores in Maryland

Towson Goodwill struck twice

TOWSON, Md. - Tis the season, and you can see the spirit of the holidays in the form of lights and decorations adorning area Goodwill stores.

But it's also the season for criminals, and now they're even targeting second hand stores.

"Stealing from Goodwill... that's like taking money out of the collection plate at church.  You know.  You just don't do that.  It's just morally wrong," said Michael Anderson of Glen Burnie.

"They should probably beef up security," added a regular customer, Felicia Tillery of Parkville, "I think that's the best thing to do."

And that's what Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake is doing after an armed robber struck the Towson store on Joppa Road on Friday and then returned to rob it again five days later.

A separate store in Timonium also has been hit, and Goodwill's Chief Operating Officer Lisa Rusyniak says it's unprecedented for the non-profit devoted to helping people who need it the most.

"We provided 16,000 people with services, support services, training, job placement services just this year alone," said Rusyniak, "and it's disturbing that in this economy, we've seen a greater need that we would see these robberies take place."

Also, within the last week, an armed robber struck five times in three separate counties including a 7-11 store on Belair Road.

Maryland State Police say he even robbed a gas station at Maryland House undeterred by huge numbers of witnesses and security cameras at each stop along the way.

"All of us can be vulnerable whether we're shopping at a mall or whether we're in a convenience store or no matter what kind of business you have... whether it's a thrift shop or a high end type place," said Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police, "All of us have to crime-prevention minded."

Tis the season to protect  yourself.

"Nothing is really safe any more," said Tillery, "You always have to look over your shoulder and hold on to your purse."

*Goodwill Industries has 26 stores in the area and more than a million people shop there each year.

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