Baltimore bank robberies spurt again Four in day help drive total toward 1993 record

June 15, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Alisa Samuels contributed to this article.

Robbers armed with nothing more than threatening notes held up four Baltimore banks yesterday, moving the city to the record-breaking levels of 1993 that sent worried bank executives scrambling for solutions.

Two banks were robbed in the suburbs -- one in Howard County by a woman who claimed to have a bomb, and one in a Baltimore County mall by a man who hinted he was armed.

The city holdups -- three at NationsBank branches -- pushed the number of Baltimore bank robberies to 50 this year. The worst year was 1993, when 116 holdups were reported.

While most of the robberies involve unarmed men who typically escape with no more than $2,000, the sheer number in 1993 prompted bank executives to form a task force. The number of holdups dropped to 51 in 1994 and 68 last year.

But now the robberies are skyrocketing again. The cause of the surge is "nothing that I can clearly put a finger on," said Lt. Larry Leeson, head of the city Police Department's robbery unit.

The string of holdups began yesterday morning, with three banks targeted before noon: the NationsBank in the 3500 block of Washington Blvd., the NationsBank in the first block of N. Calvert St. and the Chesapeake Federal Savings and Loan in the 2200 block of E. Monument St.

About 1: 45 p.m., another downtown NationsBank was hit in the first block of Light St.

Police said that none of the robberies appear to be related. In each case, an undetermined amount of money was stolen, and detectives said none of the suspects got a dye pack.

Other details were not immediately available.

On Thursday, police arrested a man they say held up six downtown banks, including the Signet Bank at Charles and Fayette streets three times since April. Leeson said police have cleared by arrest 36 of the 50 bank robberies this year.

"We capture them," Leeson said. "We have tremendous clearance rates. It's not like they're getting away with much."

The lieutenant noted that more than 30 people called with tips on the Signet Bank robber after his photo appeared. One tip led to the man's arrest.

"The person has the potential of getting up to a $2,000 reward, which is more than most of these bank robbers get," he said.

The robbery in Baltimore County occurred about 11: 47 a.m., and once again, a NationsBank branch, this one in Golden Ring Mall, was the target.

In Howard County, police said a woman walked into the Taneytown Bank & Trust Co. in downtown Columbia and handed a teller a manila envelope containing a note indicating she had a bomb.

Pub Date: 6/15/96

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