By KAANITA IYER — No arrests have been made in the connected thefts that occurred at two local gas stations in September, Hyattsville police said.
The two thefts were reported within minutes of each other on Sept. 9 at the U.S. Gas and Shell stations on Queens Chapel Road.
The police report filed for the theft at the Shell station, at 5398 Queens Chapel Road, described the suspect as a black male who fled southbound in a black Mercedes CLK with a stolen temporary tag. This car was also seen during the theft at U.S. Gas.
“I do suspect it’s the same players,” said Lt. Chris Purvis of the Hyattsville City Police Department (HCPD). “We know it’s the same car, but we have no idea who’s in the car.” HCPD is still unsure of how many suspects were involved in these thefts.
According to the police reports, the suspect approached both victims, whose names were not released by the police, by exiting his passenger seat and entering the victim’s car as they exited their vehicle to pump gas.
According to surveillance footage from the U.S. Gas, at 5320 Queens Chapel Road, the victim pulled up to the pump at 11:55 a.m. and went inside the station at 11:59 a.m., and the suspect exited his rear passenger seat and entered the victim’s vehicle at noon.
While the footage showed the suspect moving in the victim’s car, the suspect can’t be seen because he was crouching, the police report said.
The victim reported that her driver’s license, $300 cash, three unendorsed money orders totaling $420, a cell phone, a credit card, the title to her Nissan Sentra and her Samsung laptop were stolen.
The police arrived at U.S. Gas at 12:13 p.m., one minute before another police officer responded to the theft at the Shell station.
The police report also mentioned that a brown purse, containing debit and credit cards and a checkbook, was stolen from the second victim at the Shell station.
Hyattsville resident and vice chair of the Police and Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee, Irma Echeverria, said she is “not surprised” that such incident took place at the Shell station on Queens Chapel Road and Hamilton Street.
“There have been incidents before,” Echeverria said, mentioning reported fights, gunshots and an attempted carjacking at Shell. “Gas stations notoriously attract these kind of things that happen.”
Purvis said there is not a trend of such gas station thefts in the city, though.
“At this point it’s isolated,” he said. “It kind of comes in waves, and we did not see one for a year.”
As of the end of September, the two incidents remained under investigation.