Brooklyn Park bank robbed Police say holdup fits into recent 'takeover' pattern

September 16, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Two masked men with pistols held up a Brooklyn Park bank yesterday, continuing a growing trend in Anne Arundel County of what law enforcement officials call "takeover" robberies, in which thieves hold up the entire bank rather than one teller.

The robbers walked into the Provident Bank branch in the 5700 block of Ritchie Highway shortly after noon with pistols drawn, said FBI spokesman Larry Foust. One fired a shot into the ceiling and ordered bank employees and customers to lie on the floor while the other hopped over the counter and cleaned out teller's drawers.

They got away in a white Pontiac Grand Am that was later found to have been stolen in Baltimore.

The robbery came three days after a similar holdup at a First National Bank branch in Hanover. FBI officials are exploring a possible link between the two robberies, Foust said.

An hour after yesterday's robbery, a Baltimore police officer spotted the getaway car abandoned on Old Riverside Road near Leadenhall Street, just inside the city. Several dye packs used to mark stolen money had exploded in the car.

Anne Arundel and Baltimore police, along with FBI agents, began a manhunt in the surrounding woods, bringing in canine units and helicopters from the city, but the two suspects were not found.

'Takeovers' on the rise

Nearly half of the 20 bank robberies in Anne Arundel, including Annapolis, this year have been takeovers, police said. Two or more men armed with large-caliber handguns or shoulder weapons have ordered employees and customers around to gain access to the teller line or the vault. Only one of last year's 23 bank robberies was a bank takeover.

"We're definitely seeing an increase in bank takeovers in the county rather than one person holding up just one teller," said police spokeswoman Carol Frye.

Videotapes studied

Friday, two men with pistols but no masks walked into the First National Bank branch in the 7500 block of Connelley Drive and ordered 20 people to the floor. As in yesterday's robbery, one gunman kept the lobby area under control while the other leaped over the counter and took an undisclosed amount of money, FBI agents said.

Agents recovered videotapes from both banks and were analyzing them for clues and similarities.

Police aren't the only ones who have noticed the robberies.

"I've been up here about two years, and this is probably the fifth time it's been robbed," said Todd Clontz, who owns Rosso Music Center two doors down from the Provident Bank branch. "It's not the worst neighborhood, and there's a police station right down the street. In fact, they usually cut right through the [nearby] parking lot, so it's not like there's a lack of patrol. I don't know what it is."

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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