Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Bank robber held door for customer


Franklin Savings branch hit twice in 10 days

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        When James Copeland entered the Franklin Savings Bank in Roselawn to pay a bill Tuesday morning, he didn't pay much attention to the young man who held the bank's front door open for him.

        Minutes later, the bank had been robbed and the young man was running across the parking lot.

[photo] Selma Reynolds, a criminalist for Cincinnati police, dusts a counter top for fingerprints inside the Franklin Savings branch after the office was robbed Tuesday.
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        “For the short time that I looked at him, he just looked like a regular (customer) going into the bank,” said Mr. Copeland, 50, of Roselawn. “You never would have known it.”

        There were no injuries in the 11:20 a.m. robbery, but police say the thief displayed a small handgun.

        It's a scene that is playing out with alarming frequency at banks across Greater Cincinnati in recent months, police say. In fact, the same Franklin Savings branch was robbed June 16. Cincinnati Police Lt. Roger Wolf said he doesn't know if the two heists are related.

        Tuesday's holdup was the 27th bank robbery in Cincinnati this year and the 41st overall in Hamilton County, authorities said. In all of 2000, there were 24 bank robberies in the city and 53 in the county.

        “It seems to be a trend we have to take a look at,” Lt. Wolf said.

        Mr. Copeland said he was standing behind the robber — a 200-pound, 5-foot-7-inch African-American dressed in gray jogging pants and a dark shirt — at a teller window when the man handed the teller a note and displayed the weapon. The robber didn't say anything as he walked in, didn't act suspicious and didn't appear nervous, Mr. Copeland said.

        The two of them were the only customers in the bank; there were three bank employees.

        The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. Police officers from Cincinnati and several suburban departments searched side streets around the bank for about 40 minutes looking for the robber. Officers also used a helicopter during the search.

        Inside the bank, in the busy Valley Shopping Center off Reading Road, police investigators took photographs, questioned Mr. Copeland and bank employees, and dusted for fingerprints.

        Mr. Copeland has followed the area's rash of bank holdups through news reports, but Tuesday's was a bit more unsettling.

        “I was a little nervous because of what could have happened,” he said. “It could be worse the next time. People are getting bolder.”

       



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