The Washington Post

Second man pleads guilty in smash-and-grab robberies at high-end stores

A second man charged federally in connection with a spate of smash-and-grab robberies at upscale shops in the Washington area admitted in an Alexandria court Thursday that he and others targeted stores as far away as Richmond and Pennsylvania, and law enforcement officials will have to spend months sorting out exactly how much loot they took.

While pleading guilty to a federal robbery charge and a robbery-conspiracy charge, Walter Douglas, 34, of the District admitted that he was an organizer of the group, sometimes serving as a getaway driver and other times going into the stores himself. He acknowledged that the group, which included at least four others, took somewhere between $800,000 and $1.5 million in high-end jewelry, watches and handbags from the likes of the Tourneau and Michael Kors stores as well as Saks Fifth Avenue from April 2012 to April 2013.

Another man, 43-year-old Floyd Davis, also of the District, has pleaded guilty in connection with the robberies, which made news across the region because of where they happened and how they were executed. The group often struck during the daytime at some of the area’s most upscale shops, shattering display cases in front of employees and customers.

Douglas’s plea, though, revealed for the first time the broad geographic scope of the operation. In response to questions from U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, Douglas, holding one hand behind his back, acknowledged that a Saks Fifth Avenue in Richmond and Nordstrom at King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania were among the stores the group hit.

Locally, Douglas admitted to being involved in robberies at the Michael Kors store at the Tysons II Galleria, the Chanel boutique at the Galleria’s Neiman Marcus store and Belle­view Jewelers on Belle View Boulevard near Richmond Highway in Alexandria, among others.

He acknowledged smashing the glass case at the Tourneau store at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on March 19 and taking more than $503,000 in jewelry.

And he admitted to serving as the getaway driver for the robbery of the Cartier store on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase — a particularly notable role, given that a D.C. police officer who spotted the getaway car crashed while following it.

Although Douglas acknowledged as a part of his plea that the group of robbers included at least five people, he and Davis are the only ones to have been publicly charged so far.

Douglas is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 8.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.

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