The owner of a Connecticut Avenue liquor store was shot in the back last night by an unidentified woman who then escaped with $500 in New Year's Eve receipts, police officials said.

Ronald Garfinkle, 30, owner of Cathedral Liquors in the 3000 block of Connecticut Avenue NW, directly opposite the entrance to the National Zoo, was reported to be in fair condition last night at George Washington Hospital.

Police had no suspects in the case, but an investigator on the robbery squad said that a liquor store on Pennsylvania Avenue SE was robbed by a woman on Thursday and that the cases may be related.

"It's not certain, but there are similarities," said the investigator, who asked not to be identified. "It's unusual to have a woman suspect."

Second District Sgt. Harry M. Hayes said the woman entered Cathedral Liquors alone about 7 p.m., asked Garfinkle for a bottle of liquor and cigarettes and then shot him at close range with a small-caliber weapon. No customers were in the store during the robbery.

Holsey Ward Jr., the store manager since Garfinkle's father opened Cathedral Liquors nearly two decades ago, said there were two previous armed robberies at the store during operating hours, both in the 1970s.

But he said dozens of bottles of expensive cognac, wine and liquor have been taken in Sunday morning burglaries in the last year.

After the fourth break-in occurred six weeks ago, Ward said, Garfinkle installed the store's first alarm system.

Hayes said robberies have become more common recently in Woodley Park and other affluent neighborhoods nearby.

But the robbery investigator said that robberies always increase at this time of year.