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Using Threat of Bomb, Man Robs Bank

May 15, 1993|CHRISTOPHER HEREDIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Ventura bank was evacuated Friday after a robber left a device on a bank desk that he said was a bomb, authorities said.

About a dozen employees of the Bank of America branch on Telephone Road and Petit Avenue were evacuated for about three hours after the man entered the building at 3:24 p.m., asked to see the bank manager and then produced what he said was an explosive device, police said.

The contraption, later found to be fake, was described by police as two D-cell batteries and an antenna fastened with electrical tape. The man set the object on a desk and demanded that the manager go to the vault for money, said Ventura Police Sgt. Larry White.

After the manager gave the robber cash, he ran south on Petit Avenue, leaving the device behind. He escaped with about $12,000, police said.

Witnesses described the robber as white and in his 40s, 6-foot-2 and gray-haired, police said. He was wearing light-colored clothing.

The Ventura County sheriff's bomb squad was called to the scene and the device was taken to the sheriff's detonation range in Camarillo, police said. Bomb experts later concluded the device was fake.

Gary Auer, head of the local FBI office, said the incident marked the first time this year that a bomb threat was used during a bank robbery. The same branch has been robbed three times this year, Auer said.

Chuck Blevins, Ventura district manager for Bank of America, declined to comment on the robbery. Bank employees were asked to stay until the threat was over so they could finish closing the bank, he said.

The FBI, Ventura fire officials and an ambulance stood by while the bomb squad removed the device, and police blocked of a section of Petit north of Telephone while it was being removed. Bomb experts tied the contraption with a rope, dragged it from the building and lifted it into a specially fortified trailer for transport to the detonation range.

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