Man admits to role in smash-and-grab robberies at high-end stores

One of the men charged federally in connection with a spate of smash-and-grab robberies at upscale shops in the D.C. area admitted in court Tuesday that he went into the stores ahead of time so he could tell his accomplices how many people were inside and where security guards were stationed.

As he pleaded guilty to two charges in connection with the case, Floyd Davis, 43, of the District said he never personally shattered display cases or took merchandise. He said he was given hundreds of dollars and a watch by others who swiped hundreds of thousands of dollars in high-end goods.

“I only went into the stores and told them how many people was in the store and where the security guards was at,” Davis said.

Davis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct, delay or affect interstate commerce by robbery and a related gun charge, which together carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20 in federal court in Alexandria.

Davis and Walter A. Douglas, 33, were arrested this year after investigators linked them to as many as 14 robberies, according to authorities and court records. They were accused of swiping watches and handbags made by Gucci, Rolex and Michael Kors. The case against Douglas is ongoing, court records show.

Davis admitted participating in the conspiracy from December 2012 to April 2013, and he also acknowledged that investigators found a handgun that belonged to him when they searched his girlfriend’s home in Capitol Heights in May. Because he had previously been convicted of a felony cocaine charge in the District, he was not allowed to have the gun.

In response to Judge Leonie Brinkema’s questions, Davis admitted to knowledge of at least three robberies — a December robbery of the Michael Kors store at Tysons Galleria, a March robbery of the Tourneau store in the Pentagon City mall and an April robbery of the Cartier store on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase. In that case, he said he heard later of a D.C. police officer who was hurt in a crash while chasing the getaway car.

Brinkema said court filings also mentioned a robbery in Pennsylvania, although she did not provide details. She ordered documents from the proceedings sealed.

The string of robberies made news around the region because of where they happened and how they were executed. All of the eight incidents detailed in an FBI affidavit for Douglas’s case seem to have occurred when the stores were open, and six occurred between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In at least four, the robbers shattered displays, according to the affidavit.

A prosecutor said in court last month that Douglas might be connected to as many as 14 robberies, although court filings in his case detail only eight. Previous court filings in Davis’s case detail five robberies, although he is mentioned in six of the cases in Douglas’s filings.

It is unclear whether any others have been charged. Prosecutors and Davis’s defense attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

Investigators seem to have first been tipped to Douglas and Davis when an informant reported having overheard them talk about high-end watches, according to the FBI affidavit. Cellphone records showed Douglas and Davis talking to each other on the days of many of the robberies, and cellphone location data placed one or both near several of the crime scenes, according to the affidavit.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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