Wednesday, November 21, 2001

FBI seeks links in robberies

Area bank jobs may be connected

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The FBI wants to know if this man, taped robbing a Lexington bank, has robbed local banks recently.
        FORT WRIGHT — The FBI is investigating whether the potbellied, sandy-haired man who robbed a Lexington bank last week is the same man who has robbed six area banks in eight months.

        The Tristate robberies occurred from March 22 to Oct. 25. They have happened as far south as Florence to as far north as Symmes Township in northeastern Hamilton County. Police believe the man hit the same Fort Wright bank twice in less than four months.

        “We are looking into the possible link between 11 robberies in Kentucky and Ohio because the general description ... and MO are the same,” said Bob Foster, a special agent at Lexington's FBI office.

        Some of the other robberies agents are looking at occurred in Louisville.

        The latest robbery linked to the potbellied man occurred Thursday morning in Lexington. Mr. Foster said a man walked into a Bank One branch at 10:30 a.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money. No weapon was displayed, and the man was last seen walking away.

    Other area bank robberies police believe could be connected:
    • March 22, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, Fort Wright.
    • April 12, Fifth Third Bank, Florence.
    • July 9, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, Fort Wright.
    • Sept 28, Firstar Bank, Glen Este.
    • Oct. 17, The Provident Bank, Symmes Township.
    • Oct. 25, The Provident Bank, Sycamore Township.
    Source: Fort Wright Police, FBI
        The FBI described the suspect in last week's Lexington robbery as white, in his late 30s to mid-40s, 5-feet-10, and 230 to 250 pounds with sandy hair.

        Although the descriptions of the robberies vary slightly, in each the man hands tellers a note demanding money and a weapon is not displayed. In the July 9 robbery of the Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky in Fort Wright, the robber was described as 45 to 50 years old, 270 to 290 pounds and 6 feet tall.

        The number of bank robberies this year in Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati area were not available Tuesday, but Mr. Foster said all of Kentucky averages 40 to 50 bank robberies a year.

        Kentucky's last serial bank robber, Daniel T. Schwarberg, lived in the Northern Kentucky community of Verona.

        Dubbed “Average Joe” because of his ordinary looks, Mr. Schwarberg is believed to have committed 17 robberies from 1998 to 2000 along Interstate 75 in Kentucky and Ohio. He is serving a 63-month sentence in a federal prison after pleading guilty to 11 robberies.

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