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Moreno Valley bank robber uses bomb hoax to distract police

September 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Chase Bank branch in Moreno Valley was robbed on Tuesday by a well-armed suspect, who also left behind a suspicious package.

Authorities say the suspect was hiding at the bank at Fir Avenue and Nason Street, waiting for bank employees to arrive. When two employees arrived at about 8:30 a.m., he forced them inside and demanded money and car keys.

The suspect fled in one of the employees' vehicles with an undisclosed amount of money, but before leaving, investigators say the suspect left a suspicious package on a coffee table. The suspicious device touched off a bomb scare and shut down nearby streets and businesses. Employees ran to a nearby building and alerted police.

Riverside County sheriff's hazardous device team swarmed the area and sent in two specialized robots to assess the threat. After several hours, a bomb technician was able to go in and get a closer look at the device and determine it was not a bomb.

Investigators believe the suspect likely left the device as a distraction. Police say the stolen vehicle has been recovered a few blocks away.

According to investigators, the suspect was covered from head to toe in military gear. He was wearing some type of military mask, a long-sleeved black shirt, military-style cargo pants and boots.

This is the second bank bomb hoax in less than a week. Last Wednesday in East Los Angeles, two suspects kidnapped a Bank of America manager and strapped her with an explosive device. Investigators say she was forced to rob her own bank by tossing bags of money out the back door to the waiting bank robbers. Bomb techs detonated the device and determined it was inert.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at (951) 486-6900.


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