Witness helps police after theft and assault at Columbia Mall

Three Washington men face assault and theft charges in connection with a Wednesday robbery of Sears in the Mall in Columbia, according to Howard County Police.

Jeffrey Clinton Taylor, 18, Richard Randolph Richardson, 20, and Eric Charles Bacon, 22, all of Washington, DC, were arrested later that day in North Laurel, after a mall patron who witnessed the crime followed the three men as they left the mall, police said.

According to police, the three men arpproached a Sears sales clerk and asked to see an item in an electronics display case. When the clerk opened the case, one of the men shoved the clerk while another removed two tablet computers, police said.

All three then fled in a 2003 Dodge Caravan, police said.  

When police located the van in the 9900 block of Washington Boulevard later that day -- with help from the witness -- the van collided with another vehicle in an attempt to flee, police said.

Police said there were no injuries in the collision. 

The three men attempted to escape on foot but were quickly apprehended, police said.

Police later confirmed that the van was stolen from Montgomery County. 

Taylor, Richardson and Bacon face robbery, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, second-degree assault and theft charges, police said. 

All three are being held at Howard County Detention Center on $250,000 bail each.

Police spokeswoman Mary T. Phelan said the witness did not receive a reward. 

"While we do not encourage people to put themselves in harm’s way, we appreciate when people are alert to their surroundings, call 911 and are able to provide dispatchers with critical information," Phelan said. 

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