A Gambrills couple in their 60s was held captive at gunpoint by a pair of robbers, who tied them up and ransacked their home after using a ruse to get into the house, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.
The victims - a retired married couple who once owned a retail business nearby - were not seriously injured in the Wednesday incident, which lasted a little more than an hour. Police were looking yesterday for two men who fled in a white Jeep Cherokee or other SUV and said the crime might "possibly not be random" and are "investigating the possibility that this could be linked to another incident," said Justin Mulcahy, a police spokesman.
The female victim said she was alone in the home in the 800 block of Claffey Ave. about 11:30 a.m. and was preparing to make an oatmeal cake, when there was a knock at the door. Through the peephole she saw a man who said he had a package for her husband. She opened the door.
"That's when the party started," said the woman, who did not want to be identified, fearing for her family's safety. "There were two guys with guns. They told me they wouldn't hurt me, they just wanted money."
Both men wore black ski masks, and both were armed with semiautomatic weapons. They told the woman to sit on the couch in the living room, where they bound her hands and feet with plastic ties, police said.
The woman said one of the assailants ransacked the home, looking for money or other goods, while the other robber guarded her, pacing back and forth nervously in the living room.
"I told them I didn't have any [money]," she said. "I don't keep cash in the house. That didn't go over too well. They didn't believe me. It's like a cyclone went through here. They were a little annoyed. They finally came to the realization that I was telling the truth."
Things turned especially scary for the woman when the robbers made her go upstairs to her bedroom and tied her arms to a bedpost. A few minutes later, her husband came home, and she said she heard "scuffling." One of the assailants choked the man unconscious, she said, but he came to a few minutes later and was also tied up. The robbers found cash in a truck and took the couple's cell phones before fleeing.
The couple untied themselves, but because the robbers had apparently cut their phone lines, they ran to the house of a neighbor, who called police about 12:40 p.m.
A neighbor, Mabel Tobin, 85, who has lived on the street since 1948, called to check on the couple yesterday. "It's usually a safe neighborhood until recently," Tobin said. "There's been quite a few burglaries going around and stuff. We've never kept our door locked or anything, but lately ... ."
The female victim, who said that she was unharmed during the incident but that her husband's throat was irritated from the choking, said she had a message for the public: "Seniors beware. Everybody. Just don't open the door if you don't know somebody. This is really something I didn't expect to happen to me. I think our generation is a little too trusting."
As for the box the assailants used as a ruse, the police have it.