FBI arrests a suspect in robberies

December 22, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

A man suspected of robbing four Baltimore banks and attempting to rob two others, mostly by using a phony bomb ploy, was arrested yesterday at his home, the FBI said.

Inside the bags the robber left behind, authorities found either a rock, a can of soda or a can of oven cleaner.

Pharez Charles Prince, 21, was charged with robbing the First National Bank in the first block of S. Charles St. on Dec. 14, said Andy Manning, an FBI spokesman.

Mr. Prince also faces possible charges in five other bank holdups or attempted holdups believed to have been committed by the same man since Nov. 15.

Mr. Manning said Mr. Prince was to have a bail review hearing in the next few days.

The FBI said they identified the suspect through photographs taken by a bank surveillance camera during one of the robberies.

Mr. Manning said the man ever displayed a weapon in any of the incidents.

In instances where he claimed to be holding a bomb, the holdup man left behind bags containing nothing more than a rock, a soda can or a can of oven cleaner. Twice, bank employees called his bluff and he left empty-handed.

"As far as bank robberies go, he's probably on the other end of the spectrum," Mr. Manning said, referring to the unusual method of operation.

Banks hit by the bombing scheme include the Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. at Charles and Chase streets on Nov. 30 and the Dec. 4 holdup of the Household Bank at 19 E. Fayette St.

On Dec. 7, both the Signet Bank in the 300 block of E. Lombard St. and the Fairfax Savings and Loan in the first block of Light St. were the targets of a man who claimed to have a bomb, but the tellers refused to give him any money.

Visibly frustrated, the man left those banks and walked into the nearby Harbor Bank of Maryland, grabbed a handful of cash from one of the tellers there and ran out. He got a very small sum of money, police said.

By the time the First National Bank was robbed a week later, the man had given up on the phony bomb ploy and robbed the bank by handing a teller a note saying he had a gun, police said.

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