Patrons of local casinos admonished to take note of their surroundings and suspicious characters in lieu of recent robberies. (Courtesy Photo)

Since December, roughly a dozen robberies have occurred in which casino patrons at Maryland casinos were surveilled as they exited with winnings and followed to their homes before being robbed by armed suspects, according to police and court reports in several and Maryland and Virginia jurisdictions. The most recent incident involved a 66-year-old woman followed from Maryland Live!Casino and robbed of her $1000-winnings at gunpoint in front of her Fairfax home.  Shot in the arm attempting to hold on to her purse, the victim and many local gamblers are concerned that assailants followed her such a distance.

“I like that the casino is close to home, but it never occurred to me that someone could follow me from the casino and rob me in my house,” said Rosa Jones, of Prince George’s County, who said she used to take a monthly trip to Atlantic City with her church group.  “I feel safe on the premises, but what do you do when someone follows you home?  That’s just scary.”

Recent court documents on two suspects, Jose Hector Leguere and Willie Hernandez Fleming, reveal what could be described as multiple groups of robbers, preying upon visitors to Maryland Live! Casino.  Leguere and Fleming admitted they followed and robbed nine people leaving Maryland Live! Casino over a two-week span in 2013.

And while security inside the casino may be adequate, officials recommend people not visit casinos alone, and get winnings in check form instead of cash.  Additionally, Atlantic City-based Bill Burton, a casino gambling blogger, admonishes winners not to leave the cashier’s cage with money in hand, as advertising a win often makes them easy prey.  Burton also suggests getting a security escort, using a safe deposit box (if staying inside the casino), and patrons having their cars valeted so that they are not followed to their cars.

A call to Carmen Gonzales at Maryland Live! Casino, had not been returned by AFRO deadline.