A Prince George's County man suspected of committing at least 30 robberies in three Maryland counties was arrested Wednesday, moments after he announced a holdup at a Laurel restaurant he is thought to have robbed twice before, authorities said yesterday.

Laurel police investigators -- who earlier Wednesday had set up surveillance around Shane's Sandwich Shop in case it was struck again -- said they confronted Charles E. Moore, 36, before the restaurant's only employee could empty the register.

Moore fled on foot, police said, but was apprehended nearby. He was charged with three counts of armed robbery after he allegedly told authorities that he also was responsible for two recent robberies at Shane's, in the 9000 block of Marshall Avenue. He remained jailed last night in Upper Marlboro.

Authorities in Laurel and in Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties said they suspect that Moore, who is unemployed and has been living in his 1993 Ford Thunderbird for two months, is responsible for at least 27 other robberies during the summer at gas stations, convenience stores, sandwich shops and a Dunkin' Donuts.

Investigations in the other robberies are continuing, and more charges immediately were filed against Moore, whose last known address was in the 5400 block of Odell Road in Beltsville.

In each case, authorities said, someone entered the establishment, announced a holdup and fled on foot, usually with a small amount of cash. Between $70 and $100 was taken from most of the Laurel locations, although $200 was stolen in one case, police said.

The robber also wore similar attire in each of the robberies: a white tank top, baggy jeans, black sneakers and a bandanna covering his head and sometimes his face. His right hand was always wrapped with a towel or a T-shirt, and he implied each time that he was armed with a handgun. Several times, authorities said, he showed the cashier a knife.

"This was someone causing havoc not only in Laurel, but in the greater Laurel area," Laurel Police Chief David Moore said yesterday. "We're very much pleased with the outcome. It was a combination of good police work and luck."

Moore, who is not related to the suspect, said that the suspect was not armed Wednesday, but that he was charged with armed robbery because he implied he had a gun.

Lt. Phillip Pollack, who leads Laurel's criminal investigation division, said the department had analyzed the details of the robberies and noted that each occurred between the late evening and early morning hours. He said some places were struck more than once, including a 7-Eleven that was robbed three times and a convenience store that was hit twice.

"These were quick in-and-outs, usually within a minute," Pollack said. "We knew we had to be there if we were going to catch him."

He said four investigators staked out several locations in recent weeks without luck.