BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) --Police make an arrest in a series of Goodwill robberies. The suspect is a former employee of the store.
Weijia Jiang reports.
Shoppers at Baltimore County Goodwill stores have been on edge since a string of armed robberies started up last month.
"I come here and shop, get my clothes, even donate here at times, and I was reluctant to do it. Definitely didn't want to step in there," said Aizad Dasti, Goodwill shopper.
Now comes relief after police charge 29-year-old Richard Pettaway with five counts of armed robbery and three handgun charges.
They say he's a former employee of the store on 200 West Padonia Road in Cockeysville, which was robbed twice.
"It makes it to me worse than if it was some desperate stranger off the street because he took advantage of the situation," said Vanessa Barnes, Goodwill shopper.
Frequent shopper Jackie Wingler got caught up in the chaos.
"When we pulled up the police were everywhere," she said. "They had the forensic van there, and the cops were out."
Police say Pettaway would use the same plan of attack in each robbery.
"Pettaway would walk into the store. He would display a handgun, and would make the customers and employees walk into a back office of the Goodwill store, lock them inside and then take the money from the store," said Officer Shawn Vinson, Baltimore County Police.
Police say he also robbed the store on East Joppa Road in Towson on three separate occasions.
Court records reveal Pettaway has plenty of criminal experience. He's been charged multiple times with armed robbery, theft, drug possession and assault.
Still, many are baffled anyone would do harm to a place that does so much good.
"That's like going to a church and robbing it. Who really does that? That's just stupid," said Shawn Cox, Goodwill shopper.
Investigators say they're looking into the possibility Pettaway was acting out of revenge, but say he could have targeted the stores because he is familiar with them. They have not confirmed a motive.
Pettaway is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center without bail.
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