A 27-year-old Mechanicsville man has been arrested and jailed in St. Mary's County in connection with a string of recent robberies of Amish and Mennonite farmers, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Rex Douglas Reece was charged with four counts each of robbery, theft and second-degree assault. He is being held without bond pending a court appearance.

Investigators said Reece approached farmers who were selling fruits and vegetables from their roadside wagons or buggy stands in the northern end of St. Mary's near the Charles County border. Reece allegedly told the farmers he was armed and then demanded money. In one instance, Reece allegedly told a farmer he was armed with a gun, then ran off with the farmer's wallet.

In each case, a small amount of cash was taken, but investigators did not specify amounts. In all of the cases, the robber never showed his victims how he was armed, law enforcement officials said.

All four robberies took place during daylight or early evening hours between June 16 and Wednesday.

Plainclothes investigators set up surveillance in the area of the reported robberies. Responding within two minutes of the robbery on Wednesday, police obtained important information that led to the arrest, said Lt. John Horne, a spokesman for the St. Mary's County sheriff's office.

A similar incident involving the robbery of an Amish farmer just across the county line in Charles County is under investigation there, according to Craig Renner, spokesman for the Charles County sheriff's office.