Old Orchard Beach police are investigating an armed robbery Wednesday evening at a variety store and motel on East Grand Avenue, a crime that police say is very similar to a string of robberies that have occurred in southern Maine over the past three weeks.

A man dressed in dark clothing, a hooded sweatshirt, with a ski mask and sunglasses entered the Moby Dick Variety Store at 74 East Grand Ave. just before 5 p.m. and demanded that the clerk hand over all the cash in the register, Capt. David Hemingway said in a telephone interview. There is a motel attached to the business.

Hemingway said the robber brandished a handgun during the encounter, which was reported at 4:54 p.m. There were at least three other people in the store when the robbery occurred.

“He confronted the clerk and demanded money. But the clerk confronted the robber and it would appear (the suspect) fled abruptly without any cash,” Hemingway said.

The clerk confronted the robber with a club, Hemingway said in a news release.

The robber fled on foot and authorities used police K9’s from Portland and Scarborough to track the suspect, but were unable to locate him.

Hemingway described the suspect as being about 5-feet 8-inches tall with a slim build.

“The robbery appears to be similar to recent robberies occurring in southern Maine however a direct connection has not been established,” Hemingway said in his release.

There have been nine armed robberies since March 20 when a suspect matching the description in Wednesday night’s robbery entered the Riverton Gas Station in Portland and made off with cash. The robber has hit mostly late night businesses in Cumberland, Falmouth, Portland, Gorham, Westbrook, South Portland and Old Orchard Beach. On March 29, the China Eatery restaurant on Ocean Park Road in Old Orchard Beach was robbed by a man brandishing a firearm. The robber wore dark clothing and covered his face.

A Topsham tanning salon was robbed Tuesday evening at gunpoint, but the description of the suspect does not match previous robberies. He was between 6 feet and 6-feet 2-inches tall and displayed what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun.

The FBI released a compilation of surveillance videos from each robbery, but have yet been unable to identify the suspect, who is described as armed and dangerous.

No one has been injured.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]