Eight teenagers suspected of robbing women at Northwest Washington bus stops were staying before their capture in a hotel complex in Silver Spring where they divided the proceeds, police said.
The teenagers, who D.C. police say are responsible for numerous early-morning robberies at bus stops along 14th and 16th streets NW, allegedly were using the Days Inn in the 8000 block of 13th Street in Silver Spring as a base.
A manager at the Days Inn, who did not give her name, said in an interview that after the teenagers' recent arrests, the hotel began making copies of the identification presented by patrons and checking more thoroughly to make sure that no more than four people were staying in any room. She said that police had "come by and wanted to know if we saw anything" last month, but that she had not been aware of any criminal activity by guests before the arrests.
A D.C. police official said that the teenagers typically would steal or carjack a vehicle in the early morning, then cruise bus stops in Northwest Washington, robbing women who were waiting alone.
In some cases, the assailants hit or kicked the women or sprayed them with Mace, police said, before taking the victims' purses. After staging three or four robberies in the morning, the police official said, the group would return to the Days Inn to split the money. He said it was unclear how many robberies can be tied to the group, but that the first crimes fitting the pattern took place in November, and that it appears the robberies occurred on several days.
The Days Inn adjoins a Travelodge, and police said the two have common ownership. The owners did not return calls seeking comment this week. Desk clerks at the hotels work behind thick Plexiglas shields.
The teenagers were "using the place as a headquarters," D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), who represents the area where many of the robberies occurred, said of the hotel. "It's unbelievable."
In addition to the teenagers, who were not arrested at the hotel, D.C. and Montgomery County police say they've been drawn to the hotel complex to respond to other troubles in recent years.
A Montgomery County police officer fatally shot a Northeast Washington man in the parking lot of the complex in March 1999 after police said he rammed three police vehicles with a stolen car and was about to ram one again.
Other troubles have taken place in recent months, according to police. On Dec. 18, police said, they followed a stolen car into the complex parking lot and arrested three people after finding marijuana in the vehicle. D.C. police said they found items stolen from burglaries in the District and in Montgomery County in a room rented by the men at one of the hotels.
In early January, an assault and robbery left a man severely wounded a short distance from the complex, on the District side of Eastern Avenue. Police dogs followed a trail of blood to a room in the complex and arrested a man, police said.
Montgomery County police said they arrested two juveniles on Feb. 4 after officers saw them running toward a stolen car in the hotel parking lot. The two were found to have marijuana, and one of them was wanted on arrest warrants for car theft in Montgomery and Arlington counties, police said. Another car theft suspect was arrested in the lot later last month.
Fenty said that District residents who live just south of the hotel complex have called the hotel to express their displeasure. He said he has invited residents and hotel managers to a meeting next Thursday to discuss concerns with D.C. and Montgomery officials. The location of the meeting has not been set, Fenty said.