A group of teenage Maryland shoplifters — who graduated to robbery by assaulting store customers trying to stop them — led police on a 25-mile, two-county chase that ended along Interstate 83 in York County when state troopers disabled their stolen vehicle, police allege.
The group went into the Best Buy on Carlisle Pike in Silver Spring Township a little after 2 p.m. Jan. 17, according to Silver Spring Township Police Chief Christopher Raubenstine. That’s in Cumberland County.
“They all went right to the laptop computer display areas. Each went to a different laptop, like they were looking at them,” Raubenstine told The York Dispatch. “It was very coordinated. Clearly they had done this before.”
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One of the group must have given the others a prearranged signal, because at the same time each of the six grabbed the laptop they were standing in front of, yanked it from its cord and ran to the front door, according to the chief.
They stole whatever else they could easily grab as they fled, Raubenstine said, which amounted to about $13,000 in merchandise. The crew also caused about $6,000 worth of damage to the store, he said.
One or two customers saw what was going on and tried to intercede, which is when the shoplifters turned violent and kicked the good Samaritans, according to the chief.
Neither customer suffered life-threatening injuries, but one of them was also beaten, he confirmed.
Assaulted with laptops: That customer had wrestled one of the thieves to the floor and was holding him there, which prompted the rest of the crew to run back inside the store “to free their partner,” Raubenstine said.
“They struck (the customer) in the head several times with a combination of fists, feet and laptops,” he said.
The six then fled Best Buy, made their way to I-83 and started heading back down to Maryland, with Lower Allen Township Police being the first to spot and pursue them, the chief said.
At 2:24 p.m. Lower Allen police alerted state police in York County that a white Toyota RAV4 carrying wanted suspects was fleeing south on the interstate, according to charging documents filed in York County by state police.
The SUV had South Carolina plates and had been reported stolen, according to Raubenstine.
Troopers set out “spike strips” on I-83 near the Arsenal Road/Route 30 exit (Exit 21), which deflated both passenger-side tires of the speeding RAV4, charging documents state.
Helicopter joins pursuit: But the SUV — driven by 18-year-old Malcolm Xavier Cager Graham — kept going, pursued by state police in vehicles and in a helicopter, according to charging documents.
The RAV4 exited I-83 at the eastbound Market Street exit (Exit 19A), crashed into another vehicle and ran the stop sign at the end of the exit ramp, police said.
At that point the alleged robbers jumped out of the SUV and took off, but all six were captured, police said — including Graham, who allegedly took off his red-and-blue jacket and tossed it away while running.
Troopers took the alleged robbers back to their Loganville barracks, where Graham was left sitting on a bench, his jacket near him, according to charging documents.
Graham deliberately used a blanket to conceal his jacket, then threw it in a nearby trash can in an attempt to destroy evidence, charging documents allege.
Graham, 18, of the 4300 block of Seminole Avenue in Baltimore, has not yet been arraigned on his York County charges, which include the felony of fleeing or attempting to elude police, the misdemeanors of resisting arrest, tampering with evidence and causing a hit-and-run crash, and summary traffic violations including reckless driving, careless driving and speeding, court records state.
Locked up, $500K bail: He remains in Cumberland County Prison on $500,000 bail, charged in that county with the felonies of robbery, aggravated assault, retail theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit those offenses, as well as lesser offenses according to court records.
Silver Spring Township’s police chief said it was a good team effort by departments spanning two counties.
“While we don’t recommend people getting involved” in stopping criminals because it can be dangerous, the Best Buy customers who got involved certainly helped in this case, according to Raubenstine.
Co-defendants Teron Powell, 18, of Baltimore, and Takala Robinson, 18, of Pasadena, Maryland, also remain in Cumberland County Prison on $500,000 each, charged with multiple felonies including robbery, aggravated assault, retail theft and criminal conspiracy, according to court records.
The other three theft-crew members are minors from Maryland whose cases are being handled in juvenile court, Raubenstine said.
People with information about the Best Buy robbery, especially those who saw it or have cellphone video of it, are asked to email Silver Spring Township Detective Andrew Bassler at email@example.com or call him at 717-512-8889.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.