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Police detective says elaborate planning preceded robberies Cross-dress technique reportedly dropped in trying to fool authorities


A detective investigating three Howard County robberies says the crimes were elaborately planned -- with one man dressing as a woman in the first two holdups.

In Monday's robbery of a Columbia credit union, the procedure was switched in hopes of confusing police, Howard County Detective 1st Class Derek Johnson said yesterday.

This time, one robber entered Tower Federal Credit Union, wearing a dark blazer and white button-down shirt, police said.

But the pair were foiled, Johnson said, by quick-thinking off-duty police officers near the credit union in the 9000 block of Snowden Square Drive.

One Baltimore man was arrested, police say, after he led them on a chase on Interstate 95; another man was caught the next day, police said. Both men are charged in three robberies -- Monday's at Tower Federal; a Nov. 21 robbery of the Fashion Bug in the 9200 block of Baltimore National Pike; and an Oct. 20 robbery at Tower Federal.

In Monday's robbery, an off-duty officer was alerted by tellers, police said. That officer chased a robber, who dropped the money and a handgun but ran away after the officer grabbed him by the coat.

A gold Chrysler Cirrus drove away from the scene but was spotted by two off-duty officers in a patrol car, police said. Officers from several police agencies chased the car up Interstate 95 until it stopped near I-895, police said.

Arrested there was Donald P. Stokes, 34, of Baltimore.

Police arrested Shawn L. Purvis, 28, of Baltimore the next day. Both are charged with several counts of robbery in connection with the three incidents.

Police said two men met before the earlier robberies at a Baltimore County motel, where one dressed as a woman.

They changed their methods for the last holdup, Johnson said, "because they consciously wanted to put the [cross-dressing] bandit to rest."

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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