It had been a year and a half since a U.S. post office was robbed in the Washington area, but yesterday, in what appears to be an odd coincidence, two such incidents took place: an attempted robbery in Montgomery County and a robbery in Prince George's County.
U.S. Postal Service investigators believe that the two incidents, which occurred hours apart in neighboring counties, are not related. No one was injured in either case.
The first took place at 7:45 a.m. at the Cabin John post office in Montgomery County, when a man wearing a black mask, sweatshirt, gloves and bicycle helmet walked in through the employee entrance carrying a submachine gun, said postal inspector Denise Backus, spokeswoman for the Washington division. The post office, in the 7900 block of MacArthur Boulevard, was to open at 8:30 a.m.
According to Backus, the man asked several employees whether anyone else was in the office, and they said no. He asked them whether any money was in the safe, and again they answered no.
Then he told them, "This is your lucky day," and left, riding off on a bicycle, Backus said.
Less than three hours later, a man walked into the College Park post office, in the 9500 block of Baltimore Avenue, with a silver 9mm handgun. No customers were inside.
"He jumped on the counter and said, 'Give me all your money' to the clerk," Backus said. He jumped across the counter and took cash from an open register, she said. The robber left behind a stack of dollar bills and drove off in a silver car.
Backus said she did not know how much money was stolen from the College Park branch, which remained closed yesterday but is expected to open at 8 a.m. today.
She said postal investigators do not have any information linking the two incidents. "It appears to be a coincidence," Backus said.
The last post office robbery in the Washington region was in November 2003 in Charles County, according to Backus. She said that as of yesterday, neither post office had security officers, but she added, "We might look into doing that."