OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Police this week are advising business owners and restaurant workers to be vigilant of a potential scam involving an unidentified woman entering businesses and telling a desperate story about a lost wallet or purse and asking money for help in a dire situation.
On at least four occasions in less than a week, the unidentified woman has entered a resort restaurant or bar and told employees an elaborate story about losing her wallet or purse on the bus or elsewhere. The woman has then asked the employees or business owners for a temporary loan in order to catch a bus to Salisbury to meet her young daughter. In each of the reported cases, the woman has left her contact information and vowed to return to pay back the money, but is never seen again.
The first incident occurred last Thursday at a north-end bar and continued at a second location in the north end of town. Over the weekend, the woman hit two other establishments in the other end of the resort. In each case, the woman has not received more than $20, and as the word got out about the potential scam, she was turned down at other locations.
For example, she attempted the scam at a mid-town restaurant on Sunday and was turned away. Employees at the restaurant then called other establishments in the area and warned them, and the suspect appeared at one of the neighboring locations just minutes later.
“We only know that she has been seen at four bars, two in the north end and two in the south end,” said OCPD spokesperson Lindsay O’Neal. “As far as we know, she was first seen asking for money on October 17. Aas far as we know, she hasn’t gotten more than $20 if anything at either of the bars.”
Ocean City Police are aware of the situation and are keeping an eye out for her although technically what she is doing is not a crime.
“It is not a crime, so there isn’t much we could do, but it certainly has all of the characteristics of a scam,” said O’Neal. “We have a good description of her.”
The suspect is described as a white female, approximately 5’4” tall with a slim build and shoulder-length brown hair with a tint of dark red. Anyone with further information is urged to contact the OCPD at 410-723-6610.
For Getaway Driver
SNOW HILL — The getaway car driver in an armed robbery in downtown Ocean City in June pleaded guilty last week in Worcester County Circuit Court to accessory after the statute and was sentenced to 18 months with just under three months suspended.
Around 2:20 a.m. on June 10, Ocean City Police responded to the area of 12th Street for a reported armed robbery that had just occurred. The victims told police they were walking along 12th Street when they were confronted by four male suspects who robbed them at gunpoint.
OCPD officers broadcasted the descriptions of the assailants and their vehicle, which was located a short time after the initial lookout was posted. The vehicle was occupied by four male suspects, who were detained until the victims were brought to the scene to identify them. The victims were able to positively identify the vehicle’s occupants as the four men who had robbed them at gunpoint a short time earlier.
OCPD officers identified the suspects as Dominique L.A. Paul Pratt, 20, of Waldorf; Derrell Levon Prince, 19, of Waldorf; and John Riley, 23, of Washington, D.C. The investigation revealed a third suspect, identified as Darien Xavier Britton, 18, of Waldorf, acted as the group’s driver.
OCPD officers recovered the victims’ stolen property, which included two wallets containing roughly $500 in cash and two IPhones from the suspects’ vehicle. Also discovered was a handgun believed to have been used during the robbery. A check of the weapon’s serial number revealed it had been reported stolen in Charlotte, N.C.
Earlier this month, Pratt, Prince and Riley each pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery in Worcester County Circuit Court. Pratt was sentenced to 14 years with all but seven years suspended. Prince and Riley were each sentenced to 12 years with all but six years suspended.
In September, Britton pleaded guilty to accessory after the statute but sentencing was deferred. Back in court last week, Britton was sentenced to 18 months, all but two months and 26 days of which were suspended. Britton was then give credit for the 87 days he spend in jail awaiting trial, resulting in no new jail time. He was also placed on probation for 18 months.
For Machete Wielder
SNOW HILL — A Virginia man arrested on first-degree assault charges in July after nearly running over two men in a north-end Ocean City restaurant parking lot and then allegedly threatening them with a machete failed to appear for trial last week in Snow Hill and had a warrant sworn out for his arrest.
Around 4:30 a.m. on July 6, Ocean City Police responded to the parking lot of the Denny’s restaurant in the area of 112th Street for a reported weapons violation. OCPD officers met with two victims who said they were walking through the parking lot to the restaurant when they saw a silver-colored vehicle “flying down the parking lot” that almost struck them.
One of the individuals raised their hand up in a stop motion and asked the occupants of the vehicle what their problem was and told them that they had almost hit the two men. The victims told police the passenger started yelling at them. At that point, the driver, later identified as Stephen Dayaram Jagtiani, 30, of Falls Church, Va., jumped out of the vehicle and approached the two men with what appeared to be a large, sharp object in his hands.
One of the victims told police he was trying to calm the situation down when he heard what sounded like a “ching” sound. The victim turned back toward Jagtiani and saw that he had pulled out a large machete, according to police reports. The victim said Jagtiani was waving the machete over his head as he approached the two victims. The victims, then fearing for their lives, ran down the street and called police.
The OCPD officers went into the restaurant and found Jagtiani and two other individuals matching the descriptions provided by the victims sitting at a table. The victims were then brought to the scene and positively identified Jagtiani as the individual who had threatened them with the machete. Jagtiani was then placed under arrest for assault and carrying a concealed deadly weapon.
Officers searched Jagtiani for the weapon but found nothing. The OCPD officers continued to search the area around the restaurant parking lot for the weapon to no avail. According to police reports, Jagtiani mocked the officer and laughed at them during the search, claiming they would never find the weapon.
The OCPD officers then found the machete inside a tube on an old fire truck that was on the site as an advertisement display. Officers showed the weapon to the victims, who identified the machete as the weapon with which Jagtiani allegedly threatened them. Jagtiani was charged with two counts each of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.
Jagtiani appeared in court on Sept. 26 for a bond review hearing and was released on a $25,000 bond. However, he failed to appear for trial last week and had a warrant sworn out for his arrest.