OCEAN CITY – In a situation that would be comical if it weren’t so serious, an attempted armed robbery at a resort department store was thwarted this week when the clerk, a foreign seasonal worker, allegedly could not decipher the suspect’s note demanding money.
Resort police this week are searching for man who attempted to rob the Rose’s department store in the old Ocean Plaza Mall on Monday night. Police responded to the store after receiving a call around 7:15 p.m. According to police reports, the suspect entered the store and proceeded to one of the cash registers where he presented the cashier a note demanding money.
The note indicated the suspect was armed with a handgun. The cashier, a Russian woman working in Ocean City for the summer, explained to the suspect she could not read the note and did not understand what he wanted. The cashier said she did not see a weapon, but described a bulge in the suspect’s waistband.
The suspect became frustrated with the communication breakdown and left the store, but not before leaving a key piece of evidence behind. The video tape of the incident captured by the store’s surveillance system clearly shows the clerk throw up her hands as if to indicate she didn’t understand the note, at which point the clearly frustrated suspect tore up the note and deposited it in a trash can next to the check-out line.
Police recovered the torn up note and were analyzing it this week for finger prints or any other information that might lead to the suspect. The video tape also shows the suspect entering the store at the same time as another man, but police are not certain if the second man is involved in the attempted armed robbery.
While the videotape of the incident appears to indicate the foreign cashier did not understand the note or what the suspect was demanding of her, presumably because of the language barrier, the statement she wrote out for police following the incident appears to indicate she knows and understands more English than she let on. The witness statement was perfectly legible and written in clear, concise English, according to police officials, so it remains a possibility she feigned ignorance to throw off the suspect.
In any event, OCPD detectives are seeking the suspect, who is described as a white male in his mid-20s, short and thin in stature with a dark complexion. He has brown hair in a pony tail and light facial hair. The suspect has a large tattoo on his left arm from the wrist to the bicep. The cashier described the tattoo as having skulls and dragons.
Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call 410-723-6604.
See tomorrow’s new issue of The Dispatch for all the week’s news.