Montgomery County law enforcement officials have charged a 35-year-old man with 11 counts of armed robbery, and allege he is linked to 25 armed robberies that have taken place throughout the Washington region since July 1.

Melvin J. Dawes was being held in lieu of $1.1 million bond in Montgomery County after his arrest by Takoma Park police.

Barbara Young, Takoma Park police spokeswoman, said Dawes gave a statement to his captors and thanked them for the arrest.

"You saved me," Young said Dawes told the police officers.

"I'm glad you rescued me from crack -- the crack made me do it."

Young said Dawes, of the 100 block of Ritchie Avenue, Silver Spring, told police he robbed the stores to support a $400-a-day cocaine habit.

Takoma police charged Dawes yesterday with two counts of armed robbery.

Law enforcement officials allege that on Sunday, Dawes held up five stores in the county's southern portion during a 14-hour period.

Takoma Park police have charged Dawes with robbing T&J Food Market on Carroll Avenue at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and then 10 hours later, at 6:30 p.m., robbing the Takoma Market, also on Carroll Avenue.

Also on Sunday, Montgomery County police allege Dawes robbed the Seven Day Express store on Piney Branch Road at 8:40 a.m. and the Community Chevron on Colesville Road at 11:50 a.m.

Police allege Dawes netted $40 in the first robbery and $200 from the gas station.

Montgomery County police also allege Dawes stole $100 from a High's store at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Young said Dawes also is a suspect in three robberies in Hyattsville and one in Bladensburg, along with "at least a half-dozen" in Montgomery County and "about the same number" in Prince George's County.

A district court commissioner in Silver Spring said yesterday he set Dawes's bail at $1 million on nine charges of armed robbery in Montgomery County and $100,000 on the two armed robbery charges in Takoma Park.

The unusually high figure was set because of the "nature of the charges," said commissioner Charles Rice.