An ordinary red traffic signal in northeast Baltimore may have delayed two city police officers just long enough to allow two bank robbers to escape.
The two men fled with $2,765, but the money was recovered.
Northeast District Officers Robert Monroe and Todd Eibner had been en route to make a routine safety check at the Maryland National Bank branch in the 3400 block of Belair Road when they stopped for a traffic light around 12:15 p.m. yesterday, police said.
Moments later, citizens flagged down the officers on Belair Road and told them Maryland National Bank had just been robbed and the thieves had fled on foot in the 2800 block of Lake Ave., police said.
"They were waiting for the red light to change," said Agent Arlene Jenkins, a city police spokeswoman. "That's how close they were."
The money and a stolen getaway car were recovered after the holdup, but the robbers remained at large.
In the middle of the 2800 block of Lake, the officers recovered one bag of money with red dye all over it, Jenkins said.
Monroe went to the bank and Eibner stayed with the money, Jenkins said.
Monroe was told that two men had entered the bank. One had been armed with two handguns. The other had jumped the counter and grabbed money out of the tellers' stations, Jenkins said.
The robbers, who wore fish-net masks and hats, escaped in a stolen 1988 Oldsmobile, Jenkins said.
"We believe as they were getting in the Oldsmobile, the dye pack, or one of several dye packs, exploded," Jenkins said.
The car was reported stolen from the 2400 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway March 30. It was recovered, stained with dye, in the 3000 block of Clifton Park Terrace shortly after the robbery, Jenkins said.
During the robbery, police said, 20 customers and 10 employees were in the bank.
No one was injured, but "there were some elderly people in the bank who were quite upset by the whole ordeal," Jenkins said.