Police: Gas station customer broke up multi-town armed robbery spree

Police are crediting an alert customer with helping break up a multi-town armed robbery spree that had allegedly hit more than a dozen locations. Two suspects are now in custody.

According to reports, the suspects were Patricia Mercaldi, 29 of Monroe, and a male accomplice whose name has not been released pending formal charges.

Police said Mercaldi drove to Gene's Service Station on Main Street and waited in the car while her partner entered the station's retail store about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday. The suspect displayed a handgun and told the attendant to empty the cash registers.

Meanwhile a customer saw the robbery taking place and exited the store, telling other customers to leave as quickly as possible. When the suspect exited the store and got into the car, the witness followed at a safe distance, taking down the license plate and a description of the vehicle. The information led directly to Mercaldi, who is also wanted in connection with the theft of some jewelry from a Trumbull home. There were no injuries reported in the incident and none of the customers was directly threatened by the suspect.

Mercaldi and the male suspect have both been arrested. She has been charged with third-degree larceny in connection with the jewelry thefts, but Trumbull police have not yet charged either in connection with the robbery. Both suspects have been implicated in eight armed robberies in Bridgeport, three more in Monroe and possibly other robberies in Stratford and Shelton.

In addition to the witness information, police have reviewed surveillance footage from Gene's and said they believe the suspect in custody in Bridgeport is the suspect from the security camera.