Police see links in bank thefts

Video of the dye pack exploding in a suspected bank robber's pants as he escapes.
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A down economy and a comic-book villain look-alike are to blame for a surge in bank robberies during the first four months of 2009, authorities say.

The latest was Thursday when a man robbed the Wachovia Bank branch at 3430 Wrightsboro Road. He was filmed on surveillance video running from the business when a dye pack, hidden in the money, exploded in his pants.

Police blame that holdup on the troubled economy.

At least three others might be connected to one man, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles.

Dubbed the "Scarecrow" because of his resemblance to the masked villain from the recent Batman movies, this one robber is believed to have stolen money from the Georgia Bank and Trust on Walton Way and two local CSRA Federal Credit Unions, Lt. Peebles said.

"We're not saying they absolutely were committed by the same person, but there is the strong possibility that at least a couple of them are connected," Lt. Peebles said.

Thursday's holdup was the fifth in Augusta this year, up one over the same period in 2008.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he has seen the way tough economic times can affect crime, and he expects to deal with an increase in the months ahead.

"The economy is going to play, for the next 18 months to two years, a major part in the increase in criminal activity," Sheriff Strength said.

"We've seen it before, and we know what a bad economy does to crime," Sheriff Strength said.

Bank robberies have also been frequent in Aiken County, where the Sheriff's Office has beefed up patrols after a series of holdups.

Although police recently arrested three North Augusta men in the April 23 armed robbery of the Bank of America on Martintown Road, authorities say they are still looking for two men believed to be involved in the Wednesday robbery of a Langley bank.

There was also a robbery of the Beech Island Credit Union.

Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Troy Elwell said he doesn't want to put all the blame on the economy.

"These people aren't stealing because they're trying to feed their family," he said. "These people are stealing because they want to steal."

Reach Adam Folk and Stephanie Toone at (706) 724-0851.

BY THE NUMBERS

In April the FBI released data showing holdups on the rise in the last quarter of 2008.

1,358

Bank robberies in July-September 2008

1,617

Robberies October-December 2008, a 19.5 percent increase

465

Robberies in the last quarter of 2008 in which guns were used

75

Robberies in which acts of violence were committed, including 37 assaults and 15 hostage situations

3

Deaths during the robberies. All three were the robbers.

SUSPECT SOUGHT

North Augusta Public Safety detectives have a fourth suspect in the robbery of the Bank of America on April 23.

Anthony M. Martin, also known as "T Money," is wanted on bank robbery and other charges.

Mr. Martin is known to frequent the Atlanta and Snellgrove, Ga., areas. He has been identified as the gunman during this robbery and should be considered dangerous.

-- North Augusta Department of Public Safety

WEAPONS WARNING

NORTH AUGUSTA --- Don't bring a gun to the bank, even if you have a license.

On Monday, two brothers -- one from North Augusta, the other from Atlanta -- learned what can happen if you have guns visible in your car in a bank parking lot.

"Everybody took it for the real deal," Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Troy Elwell said. An anonymous caller reported two men with guns who were about to enter a Bank of America on Edgefield Road.

Police rushed in.

They stopped the men from driving away, got them out and onto the ground, then handcuffed them. Eventually, police learned the guns were legally owned and the two men were simply trying to make a checking account withdrawal.

-- Preston Sparks

QUICK FACT

FBI statistics show most bank robberies occurred on a Friday. Regardless of the day of the week, violations between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. are the most common.

Comments (8) Add comment
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dhd1108
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dhd1108 05/01/09 - 04:16 am
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officer i didn't rob no bank,

officer i didn't rob no bank, i was procuring my portion of the stimulus/bailout money from citiwachoviacorps.

hurlyburly11
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hurlyburly11 05/01/09 - 07:57 am
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Thats the funniest video

Thats the funniest video !.!!!!!!Any one seen a tall pink african American with very sore family jewels...(pink ones)?

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 05/01/09 - 08:12 am
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They should upgrade that dye

They should upgrade that dye to emit a paralyzing agent or instant knock out odor to stop these nuts. Make the dye function as a knock out agent that causes them to fall to the ground making them instantly start ooozing goo out of their noses, mouth, eyes and ears (that don't kill them) but have them whencing in pain. AND LOL the only way that they can stop feeling the effects of the dye is if they are STRIPPED nekkid on the scene and WATERED DOWN by a fire hose, then carried to JAIL.

drumbeater1
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drumbeater1 05/01/09 - 08:37 am
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jackfruitpaper833....but that

jackfruitpaper833....but that would be considered torture, and we all know where that road leads....better we give the poor ,underpriveledged , absentee-fathered,project dwelling "victim" the money, and chalk it up to 400 yrs white opression...right justus4 ??

mythought
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mythought 05/01/09 - 09:07 am
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Maybe they should change his

Maybe they should change his name to "Pink Money"

drumbeater1
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drumbeater1 05/01/09 - 09:20 am
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truth hurts......but, yeah, i

truth hurts......but, yeah, i said it.

jack
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jack 05/01/09 - 01:33 pm
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Need armed guards in our

Need armed guards in our banks again.

Ben There
56
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Ben There 05/01/09 - 02:37 pm
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Wish I could send some pink

Wish I could send some pink exploding dye to those credit card companies that rip me off everyday. Oh, that's right they can do it legally.

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