Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Suspect arrested in bank robberies

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        For several days, Cincinnati police said a middle-age, balding, serial bank robber was pushing his luck.

        Monday night, Robert E. Conway's luck ran out, hours after police said he robbed the PNC Bank in Hyde Park Plaza, thought to be his eighth local bank job in three weeks.

        Mr. Conway, 52, whose last known address was Columbus, has served most of the last 18 years in Ohio prisons for breaking and entering, receiving stolen property and theft, Ohio prison records show.

        Just before 8 p.m., Cincinnati police received a tip that Mr. Conway was at the Armada Hotel on Reading Road in Roselawn. Police arrived at the hotel within minutes and spotted Mr. Conway, who ran into a nearby bar. He was arrested inside the bar without a struggle.

        Police said they expected to soon file charges of aggravated robbery, but Mr. Conway was still being ques tioned late Monday.

        No weapons or cash were recovered, police said.

        “We are very, very certain this is our person who robbed the banks,” said Cincinnati Police Lt. Roger Wolf.

        Columbus police identified Mr. Conway as a suspect in several bank heists there. Authorities then linked him to local holdups using video from a Dayton robbery that Columbus police identified. His identity was announced locally Monday afternoon, about 15 minutes after the Hyde Park robbery.

        Since April 19, police say, Mr. Conway has hit six banks in Cincinnati and two in Northern Kentucky. He is also a “strong” suspect in a Dayton, Ohio, bank holdup and may be responsible for as many as four in Columbus, said Ed Boldt, spokesman for the FBI's Cincinnati office.

        The frequency of his alleged holdups caught authorities by surprise.

        “In my experience ... we simply never had a bank rob ber who has robbed this many banks in this short a time,” said Mr. Boldt. “Eight in about 18 days is just unheard of.

        There were no injuries in any of the robberies.

        Police say Mr. Conway walked into the PNC at 3740 Paxton Ave. in Hyde Park about 1:40 p.m. Monday, handed over a note demanding money and fled on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. He was seen running across the plaza parking lot.


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