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Holidays present slew of oddball robberies
MADISON, Wis. (12/29/09)--Robberies during the holidays were a bit on the usual side, including an armed gunman who wished the tellers he'd just robbed a "Merry Christmas." Among them:
* A man who robbed $75 million asset Financial Plus CU, Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday afternoon entered the credit union wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a "skeleton" ski mask. He pointed a handgun at a teller, who removed her cash drawer and placed it on the counter. The suspect placed his gun on the counter, removed his gloves, and started shoving money into a plastic bag. The suspect also took another teller's cash, and before he fled, he wished them both a "Merry Christmas." (Des Moines Register Dec. 24). * A thief wore a black jacket, hat, ski mask, dress shoes and dress pants, plus white gloves, when he walked into GTE FCU, Tampa Fla., Dec. 5. He also held up a black umbrella, propping it over his left shoulder while he held a gun in his right hand. The robber took cash from the tellers and vault, stuffed the money in a distinctive grey and black leather briefcase, and ran ( Dec. 28). Authorities hope the unique briefcase will identify the guy with the umbrella, not to be confused with the "little man with the umbrella," a 20th century marketing icon for credit unions and a predecessor to credit unions' current "Little Guy." * Someone entered the 24-hour lobby at Service First CU's Tea, S.D., branch and stole the ATM just after midnight on Dec. 21. The suspect cut the cables to the ATM and stole the entire machine. Authorities are investigating whether the theft is related to an earlier ATM theft at a convenience store on Dec. 16 ( Dec.28). * A fake bomb was used by a man at a drive-through window at a United Community CU Saturday in Crosby, Texas. The man pulled up to the window and handed the teller a package with a note demanding money. She gave him the money, then called police. A bomb squad secured the branch and sent a robot to retrieve the device, which turned out to be a well-constructed homemade bomb hoax. "The teller was smart. She didn't touch it," said the Harris County Sheriff's Office (abc13 Dec. 26). * Another fake bomb was brought into a Riverton, Utah branch of Sandy-based Jordan CU Wednesday just before 5 p.m. by man wearing a ski mask. He also was armed with a gun. He set the package on the counter and said a bomb was inside. He fled toward a residential neighborhood with the money. The Unified Fire bomb squad examined the box and determined it wasn't a bomb. * Holidays are prime time for crimes of opportunity, say police in Epping, N.H. A Service CU ATM inside a Walmart there provided an example. A man thought he deposited $590 into his account via the ATM but didn't read the transaction slip before he walked away. It said, "Unable to make a transaction at this time." The ATM returned the deposit, which the man did not notice. A woman accompanied by a boy stopped at the machine, took the cash and entered Walmart. Police are distributing a surveillance photo of the woman. Service CU, which is based in Portsmouth, N.H., is covering the victim's loss (The Boston Dec. 25).


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