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October 02, 2008

Bank Of America robbery location in Monroe
(MONROE, WA) -- A short time after a group of laborers was lured to a Monroe park by the promise of landscaping work were beginning to wonder if they were part of a joke, they discovered they were more likely decoys in an elaborately planned bank robbery in which the suspect may have used an inner tube to escape.

It appears the daring daylight bank robbery staged in Monroe on Tuesday of this week was put together by some creative bank robbers; the kind who think out of the box.

As part of the crime the robbers apparently, say police, placed a fake help wanted ad on Craigslist to lure a group of laborers to the Monroe shopping center where the bank was located to ostensibly use them as look-alike decoys to throw police off the trail of the real robber when police arrived on the scene a short time later.

And laborers did show up and waited for over 15 minutes in the Monroe shopping park for a job supervisor that never appeared. They were all dressed in blue shirts, work boots and safety vests as instructed in the ad.

About a dozen or so laborers responded to a Craigslist ad posted online September 27th seeking laborers for a landscaping job Tuesday morning in Monroe. The ad promised wages of $28.50 per hour and stated "all labor workers must purchase safety glasses or equivalent eye protection, ventilator mask, yellow safety vest, long sleeves and no shorts, along with proper foot protection.”

Monroe police now believe the ad was part of the elaborately planned robbery carried out by a man who made off with a bag of cash taken from a Brinks Security guard after dousing the guard with pepper spray when he came walking back outside the bank with the money. Police think the robber then ran to nearby Woods Creek adjacent to the Skykomish River, where he may have made his getaway on an inner tube on the river.

The robber was dressed much like the laborers who were sought in the Craigslist ad, leading police to believe the gathering of the similarly dressed laborers was intended to throw off the police officers who responded to the scene.

The robbery happened about 11 a.m. outside the Bank of America parking lot at the corner of Old Owen Road and Highway 2. Witnesses told police that the suspect loitered in the area, dressed as a landscape worker, and watched as a security guard returned to the armored car from the bank with money in canvas bags.

The robber quickly ran up to the guard, sprayed him with pepper spray, grabbed the money bags and ran about 100 yards through Eagle Park to Woods Creek, which empties into the Skykomish River not far from the bank.

At that point the suspect vanished and police think he may have jumped onto an inner tube and floated in the creek toward the Skykomish River or that he may have had an accomplice waiting for him downstream somewhere. An inner tube was later recovered on the bank of Woods Creek.

It is not known how many labor decoys in all were lured to the area by the phony ad, but police are asking anyone with information to call their tip line at 360-863-4600.

Police say the robbery unfolded as the robber, wearing cut off jeans and carrying what appeared to be a can of pepper spray was evidently waiting outside the bank as a Brinks Security Guard came out of the bank with a bag of money headed toward an armored car.

When the guard walked outside the bank the robber reportedly rushed the guard and disabled him by spraying the guard in the face with the can of irritant, then grabbed the money bag or bags, ran across the street and was last seen running into Eagle Park on Wood Creek which feeds into the Skykomish River. The security guard was treated by medics at the scene for what appeared to be temporary irritant injuries sustained in the spray attack.

Monroe police officers responded to various spots on the river and a police helicopter and tracking dog were also employed in the search, however the robbery suspect got away prior to police arriving on the scene.

As he ran away from the bank the robber reportedly tossed off a baseball cap, wig and a mask. The man had evidently waited outside the bank for the guard prior to the robbery by reportedly posing as a gardener or other ground maintenance person.

He was noticed wearing gloves, a mask and was toting what appeared to be some type of chemical spray pump, leaving bystanders the impression the man was there legitimately to spray chemicals on landscaping elements around the bank.

Police believe the robbery was well planned and they think the man had a lookout at the bank of the river. One witness reported seeing a man parked outside watching through binoculars.

Following the robbery bank customers who were turned away for the day as police collected evidence and gathered statements from witnesses.



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