Local News

Man charged in armed robbery spree

Posted July 23, 2008 12:06 p.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2008 7:28 p.m. EDT

— A Durham man was charged Wednesday with three robberies and an attempted robbery Tuesday in Chapel Hill and Raleigh in which the suspect was armed with a sawed-off shotgun, police said.

Keith Robert Webster, 23, of 516 Burlington St., was charged with two counts of armed robbery and one count each of robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted armed robbery and possession of a weapon of mass destruction. The last charge was related to the sawed-off shotgun.

Webster was in the Wake County Jail Wednesday under a $325,000 secured bond.

Chapel Hill police said a man was held up at about 2:40 p.m. Tuesday at an RBC Bank automated teller machine on Willow Drive. The robber parked next to the man's car and displayed a shotgun, demanding the money the man withdrew and ordering him to withdraw more, police said.

About two hours later, Raleigh police received a report of a robbery at the Wachovia Bank ATM at 3959 New Bern Ave. While officers investigated that crime, they were notified of a robbery at a car wash across the street from the bank, police said.

Raleigh police also responded to an attempted robbery at 4:45 p.m. at the Bank of America ATM at 321 Oberlin Road.

The robber and the vehicle description was the same in each case, police said.

Officers detained Webster a short time after the third report at Blue Ridge Road and Hillsborough Street, near the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. The license plate of the vehicle he was driving matched the tag number of the vehicle used in the Chapel Hill robbery, police said.

"Anytime you have a shotgun, you never know whether or not they are willing to use it, so you assume that they are," said Capt. Jackie Carden of the Chapel Hill Police Department. "(The arrest is) a huge relief. Whenever there is that many (crimes) and at one time related, we absolutely want to get that person off the street."

Chapel Hill police said they also were investigating any possible link between Webster and two Sunday evening robberies by a man with a shotgun.

The first occurred at about 6:30 p.m. on East Franklin Street when a man approached two men, showed a shotgun, demanded money and fled the scene.

About 2.5 miles away at University Mall at South Estes Drive and U.S. Highway 15/501, a woman using a drive-through Wachovia ATM was robbed by a man matching the description of the suspect in the Franklin Street robbery.

In both crimes, witnesses described the robber as a black man between 20 and 25 years old, about 6 feet tall with a thin build. He wore a black baggy shirt and dark-colored, baggy pants. In the second robbery, the victim said he wore a baseball cap.

He drove away from the ATM robbery in a four-door, 1980s-model sedan. The vehicle was described as beat-up and either covered with dull, gray primer or was unpainted.

Investigators said there might be another related case in Durham, where a woman said she was followed from an ATM to a car wash and was robbed at gunpoint while the car wash was running.

Anyone with information regarding the Chapel Hill robberies is asked to call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-226-CRIME.