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Baltimore Police form new task force investigating robberies

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Posted at 2:41 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 17:24:01-04

Baltimore police are forming a new task force to target robberies throughout the city.

"A friend of mine was actually held up at gun point while he was knocking on my front door," a resident of Fells Point said as he was putting air in the tire of his family's stroller.

Police said roughly two dozen detectives will be assigned to the new unit, which is expected to be fully staffed within the next few days. 

"They need to know that we're going to put the resources together to go after them," BPD Spokesman TJ Smith said.

Smith says mostly young people are committing these crimes. Officers arrested six juveniles in connection with robberies committed Halloween night.

The task force follows the success of recent investigative efforts aimed at cracking down on illegal dirt bikes and also on “bump and run” car-jackings.

RELATED: Baltimore police form dirt bike task force

RELATED: 6 Teens charged in 'bump and run' robberies in Baltimore

Compared to 2015, robberies from January until late October are up 15% overall across the city. The biggest spike, is in Southeast Baltimore, up 37% compared to the same time period last year.

Kea Hawkins works at Johns Hopkins and visits Fells Point often. She grew up in the city and said she never felt unsafe, but she has heard about robberies in the area.

"We get text messages from Hopkins sometimes about people that has gotten robbed like away from the campus where there is security around all the time," Hawkins said.

Her husband Ellis works security for Hopkins and says tourists are the ones who need to watch out in Southeast Baltimore.
 
"If you're not really used to the area, you know, a lot of people who come to Baltimore, this is the main attraction. Here, the Harbor, Fells Point. But I think with every inner city you need to be aware of your surroundings," he said.
 
Smith says robberies are a violent crime and the criminal could become more dangerous.
 
"The more of these suspects that we get off the street the more guns we potentially take of the street and the more opportunity you have for them not to commit a crime a violent crime," Smith said.
 
Kea Hawkins agreed, "sometimes robberies are like a first step to doing other things, worse you know."
 
The new squad is already working, and will be fully staffed in a couple days.
 
It took a few months for the department to organize the new unit, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said it was important to get done.

Smith said the new unit will not take away from any other part of the department.

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