A swift police response wasn’t enough to capture a man using a note demanding cash to rob U.S. Bank Thursday afternoon. He escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.
One South Lake Tahoe police officer who rushed to the scene parked his patrol car on the lawn of Denny’s Restaurant. The thief was last seen running into the main parking area of the Al Tahoe shopping area.
Lt. Martin Hewlett said no weapons were seen when the bank was hit at 1:20 p.m.
The department has the name of a suspect sought for questioning, Hewlett said.
A description of the robber was limited. His height was described between 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-8-inches tall. His body was described as having a medium build. He wore a dark sweatshirt with a hood over his head. A face warmer for winter conditions covered his nose, cheeks and chin.
Various U.S. Bank customers were oblivious to a “closed” sign taped on the glass entrance doors as they knocked on the panes and peered inside.
Sean Pratt was dismayed when he found himself in an unfortunate situation of not being able to withdraw money from his account. Three days ago Pratt moved to South Lake Tahoe from Colorado and hasn’t received his ATM card yet.
“I was trying to make a withdrawal but I guess someone else did,” he said while walking away from the bank.
Brett Enerson and his wife Bonnie were preparing to make a deposit when they learned of the news. Brett was astonished to hear of another bank robbery in South Lake Tahoe.
“I have heard of more bank robberies here than in bigger cities,” he said.
“Well, I haven’t heard of this one being hit,” Bonnie said as a pair police detectives walked toward U.S. Bank.
It’s been more than a year since someone walked into a bank and demanded money without a withdrawal slip. In the summer of 2003, Russell Waggoner robbed three branches of El Dorado Bank, one of them twice. Last November Waggoner pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery. He received a 12-year prison sentence after authorities used his fingerprints to find his identity and arrest him in a Sparks casino.
An FBI officer said last year that South Lake Tahoe has averaged 2.5 bank robberies per year during the past decade.
Brett believed the transient nature of South Lake Tahoe contributes to the frequency of bank robberies.
Although Thursday marked the first bank robbery for South Lake Tahoe this year, the cash registers of convenience stores have been targeted.
In February, two South Tahoe High School students were arrested for their involvement in a string of convenience store and gas station robberies to fund a cocaine habit. Another was arrested for his part in one robbery. A BB handgun was used.
Anyone with information on Thursday’s robbery at U.S. Bank is asked to contact Detective Brad Williams at (530) 542-6100.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org