Bank tellers call robber's 'bomb' bluff BALTIMORE CITY

December 08, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Tellers at two downtown Baltimore banks yesterday called the bluff of a would-be robber who claimed he was carrying a bomb in a paper bag. Frustrated, the man went to a third bank, where he abandoned the bomb ruse and grabbed a handful of cash and fled, city police reported.

The same man robbed two other banks last week by falsely claiming he was toting bombs, police said. He left a bag containing a soda can in one bank and in the other bank he left a bag containing a rock. Yesterday, his paper bag contained a can of oven cleaner, police said.

The scheme didn't work yesterday because the tellers had heard about last week's robberies, police and FBI agents said. The man fled from the third bank, managing to elude police.

"The tellers were wise to him. They just said, 'No way today,' " said FBI spokesman Andrew Manning.

Police said the man struck first at the Signet Bank branch in the 300 block of E. Lombard St. He entered the bank about 1 p.m. and gave a teller a note saying, "I've got a bomb," authorities said.

But the teller just stared at him in disbelief and refused to hand over any money. The man ran out the door, still clutching the bag containing the alleged bomb, police said.

About 20 minutes later and two blocks away, he tried the same routine at Fairfax Savings and Loan in the first block of Light St. But once again, he found a skeptical teller who told him 'no,' police said.

Appearing angry and agitated, the man left his bag on the floor of the bank and ran outside, police said. When police arrived, they opened the bag and found the oven cleaner.

Meanwhile, the robber ran another few blocks to the Harbor Bank of Maryland in the first block of W. Fayette St. He walked in about 2 p.m. and, without saying a word, grabbed a handful of money being counted by a teller at one of the stations. He was last seen running south on Hanover Street, police said.

He got a very small sum, police said.

The same man is wanted for the Nov. 30 robbery of the Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. at North Charles and Chase streets and Friday's holdup of the Household Bank at 19 E. Fayette St., the FBI said.

In both cases, the man gave a teller a note saying he had a bomb. He fled with cash and left the bags behind.

Mr. Manning said phony bomb ploys are not unusual in bank robberies. Once, he recalled, a woman even attempted to rob a Prince George's County bank by putting a large lemon in a black sock, so it would appear like the round black bombs seen in cartoons.

"It depends on the teller you get whether they'll believe it or not," Mr. Manning said. "Today, they must have realized the worst this guy could do was hit them over the head with a rock or a can of soda."

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