Md. department stores hit by robbers armed with pepper spray

Montgomery County police are asking for your help in identifying as many as a dozen people who have been stealing items from department stores and pepper spraying security guards who try to stop them.

It has happened three times in recent months in Chevy Chase and in Bethesda.

The most recent incident was July 23 at the Macy's in Montgomery Mall. Two people, a man and a woman, were caught on camera grabbing boxes of expensive perfume and heading for the exit. The female thief pepper sprayed a loss prevention officer who tried to stop the suspects from leaving. They got away.

A previous crime took place July 3 at the Bloomingdale's in Chevy Chase. As many as 10 or more people walked around the store examining clothing before choosing what they wanted and stuffing items into bags they were carrying. One man took a jacket worth more than $1,000 and the others concentrated on Burberry items, police said. When the suspects left the store, they were confronted by a security guard who was also attacked with pepper spray.

Montgomery County police said there was a third incident last December involving pepper spray. Two people were arrested and later convicted.

The use of pepper spray raises this type of a crime to an armed robbery, police said. The incidents are being investigated separately. They have not been linked.

If you recognize any of the suspects in the videos, contact Montgomery County police at 240-773-TIPS.