Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Bank robberies already top 2000 total

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With three bank robberies in Cincinnati in a span of four hours Monday, Hamilton County exceeded in seven months the total for all of last year. And 2000, with 53 robberies, was by far the highest in at least 15 years, authorities say.

        Monday's robbery at Columbia Savings Bank, at 411 Ludlow Ave. in Clifton, was the 54th of 2001. Hamilton County's total has risen dramatically in recent years; there were only 18 in 1997.

        The three in Cincinnati on Monday are not believed to be connected. One arrest was made, and two suspects remained at large. No one was injured.

        Damon Hines, 22, of the 1000 block of Chapel Street, Walnut Hills, was caught near Eighth and Walnut at 9:53 a.m. Monday, 29 minutes after a robbery at Provident Bank at 632 Vine St. downtown.

        An hour later, the Clifton Heights Loan and Building at 201 W. McMillan was robbed by a man with a gun, the only robbery in which a weapon was shown.

        “We came into this week trying to catch up from last week,” Cincinnati police Sgt. Anthony Carter said outside Columbia Savings Bank in Clifton, where the robber got away.

        “We had seven dead bodies in seven days,” he said, referring to a recent spate of violence and shootings in the city. “We start to see some light, and then this happens.”

        It was the second time the Columbia Savings branch has been robbed since May. The suspect in Monday's robbery fit the general description (a white male in his 40s) but

        Sgt. Carter said it was not immediately clear if the same man robbed the bank twice in three months.

        “It's not common,” he said. “However, you're talking about the criminal mind-set. The number of times it happens is extremely small, but it happens.”

        All three robberies occurred at busy locations, teeming with pedestrians and motorists. For the robber, that cuts both ways, investigators say. While there's a better chance a fleeing robber will go undetected in a large crowd, it also makes for more potential witnesses.

        Bob Hamberg, 87, who lives a few blocks from the Ludlow robbery site, stopped as he walked past yellow police tape in front of the bank and talked about the rise in crime.

        “Oh, I remember one about three, four years ago,” Mr. Hamberg recalled. “They saw the fellow and chased him and got him. But I think (robbers) will pick a place that's in a busy area because they can blend right in.”

        Descriptions of the at-large robbers are:

        • Clifton Heights Loan & Building: black male, 25 to 30 years old, slender build, a tan or beige round brim hat, green T-shirt, khaki pants and a black Jansport backpack.

        • Columbia Savings: white male, 42 to 47 years old, 5-feet-7, about 160 pounds, wearing a white ball cap with a dark blue bill, wrap-around dark sunglasses, white T-shirt and blue jeans. Last seen running south on Ormond Avenue.


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