2 dye packs explode, so robber changes clothes

September 27, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

A man claiming to have a gun and a bomb was foiled in two Baltimore County bank robberies by exploding dye packs yesterday, but he succeeded in robbing a third bank after changing out of his dye-soaked clothes, authorities said.

"He went kind of nuts and robbed three banks. He got two dye packs and he just continued on until he got some money that wasn't stained red," said H. Thomas Moore, a supervisor in the FBI's bank robbery unit in Woodlawn.

After reviewing videotapes of the robberies -- two in Randallstown and another on Falls Road just north of the city line -- investigators said they believe the robber is the same man already being sought in the robberies of four other area banks since Aug. 2.

The robber yesterday struck first at Key Federal Savings Bank in the 8600 block of Liberty Road. The FBI said he was given an undisclosed sum of money about 9:55 a.m. after handing a teller a note claiming he had both a gun and a bomb.

Moments after he ran out of the bank, the dye pack -- one of the most common methods used by banks to deter robberies -- exploded and shrouded the holdup man in a red mist, the FBI said.

The man dropped the money, most of which was destroyed by the acidic dye. About 15 minutes later, a man with red-stained clothes walked into the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Co. at Liberty and Old Court roads and handed a teller a similar note, the FBI said. The two banks are about four blocks apart.

Once again, the holdup man was given money -- and once again the pack exploded within moments of leaving the bank.

The robber again discarded his loot, and then apparently made his getaway to a safe location, the FBI said. "We think he went someplace and changed his clothes," Mr. Moore said. "When he showed up for the third robbery, he had different clothing on."

The man walked into the First Bank of Maryland branch at Falls Road and Lake Avenue about noon. He used a note again, and was given yet another bag of money -- one that didn't have a dye pack, the FBI said.

Bank tellers are told to use their discretion in putting dye packs in bags. Some tellers, and some banks, do not use the packs because they don't want to provoke violence from holdup men.

Authorities said they are seeking Antonio Charles Jeffers, 22, whose last known address was in the 6900 block of Glenheights Ave. He is charged in a Baltimore County warrant with five counts of armed robbery in the holdups of the four other banks and of a High's convenience store, county police said.

Mr. Jeffers hasn't been charged with yesterday's robberies but he is considered a strong suspect, the FBI said.

The Maryland Association for Bank Security is offering a $2,000 reward for information about the robberies.

Anyone with details is asked to call county police at 887-2017 or the FBI at 265-8080.

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