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SHARON Search continues for bank robber



Published: Sat, August 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A bank official said two customers left the bank just before the robber approached a teller.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- The man who robbed the First National Bank of Pennsylvania branch at 7 W. State St. on Wednesday apparently waited for all customers to leave the building before making his move.

Photographs from the robbery scene show the man standing off by himself on one side of the lobby as a customer stands at a teller window.

The robber has a cell phone pressed to one ear, dark sunglasses on and a baseball cap pulled low on his forehead, all to hide his face.

Despite his efforts, police said a good description and the photos they have been able to use have led to a lot of telephone tips about possible suspects.

The FBI and Sharon police are conducting a joint investigation in the case.

Description: Police said the robber, a white man between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds, approached a teller just before noon and handed her a note demanding cash.

He pointed to his waistband as though he had a weapon, but no weapon was shown, police said.

A bank official confirmed that two customers left the lobby just before the robber approached the teller.

The teller handed him what the bank official described as "an insignificant amount" of money and the man ran out of the bank, headed south through a parking lot toward Connelly Boulevard.

Police covered the area within minutes but were unable to find him.

History shows that bank robberies are generally committed by local people, usually with a crisis in their lives who need money quickly, an FBI spokesman said.

Clothing: The robber had dirty blond hair pulled into a ponytail through the back of his ball cap. He wore blue jeans, a white, long-sleeve jersey and black and white tennis shoes and is believed to be about 40 years old.

The last bank robbery in Sharon also occurred at the same First National Bank branch in April 1996 when it was located at 107 E. State St.

That robber, armed with a gun, wasn't able to elude capture.

Robert Timmerman, bank manager at the time, followed the man outside and trailed him half a block before the robber got into a car and drove away.

Timmerman gave police a description of the car and its direction of travel, and officers spotted it moments later on Agate Way in the North Flats section of town.

The robber, later identified as John J. Roberts, 32, of Shady Lane, New Castle, jumped from the car and ran into a nearby business where police found him hiding under a bench, still clutching a bag of money from the bank.

Police recovered a starter pistol and a BB handgun.

Roberts was also charged with two other Sharon business robberies and a number of other robberies in other local municipalities.




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