String of bank robberies plagues area

January 19, 1997


Staff Writer

Tri-State area banks have been the unlucky target of 13 robberies since Friday, Sept. 13.

That's a rate of more than three a month.

But the goods news is that police have made arrests in all but two of the holdups, both in Hagerstown.

Unsolved is a Dec. 12 robbery at Hagerstown Trust Co.'s Prospect Avenue branch and a Jan. 10 holdup at Home Federal Savings Bank, 1700 Dual Highway in Hagerstown.

Police believe all five bank robberies in Franklin County, Pa., were related.

Jason Tucker Brown, 24, of 409 Park Circle Drive near Chambersburg, Pa., has been charged with the crimes and is at Franklin County Prison in lieu of $450,000 bail.


Kris E. Jones, 25, of Fayetteville, Pa., has been charged with criminal conspiracy for allegedly driving the getaway car after Nov. 19 and Dec. 19 heists at F&M Trust in Mont Alto, Pa.

"Obviously, we, as officials at the bank, are relieved that the people involved in our incidents have been apprehended," said Jim Probst, vice president at F&M Trust.

Bank robbers are often caught with the aid of sophisticated security tools, like video cameras and alarms, that other types of businesses don't use, said FBI Agent Barry O'Neill.

"It's probably the highest solution rate of any crime," he said.

Despite the bad odds, banks remain a popular target for thieves.

"People think that's where you get a lot of money, but it's not true," O'Neill said.

The average amount taken in a bank robbery is about $2,000, he said.

Police found $2,901 in the car of a man charged with a Nov. 13 heist at Hagerstown Trust Co.'s Jefferson Boulevard branch, police said.

A man confessed to taking about $5,000 from Chambersburg Trust's branch at 1798 Lincoln Way East on Dec. 6, according to Franklin County court records.

At One Valley Bank in Baker Heights, W.Va., a homeless man and outpatient at the Veterans Administration Hospital put $1,650 of the bank's money in a satchel, according to testimony from his preliminary hearing.

Amounts were not disclosed in the other cases.

"Normally, they only take what's in the teller's drawer," said Washington County Sheriff' Charles Mades.

To protect bank security, police officers and bank officials don't like to talk about details of robberies or specific security measures used.

Police couldn't give any reason for the increase in bank robberies in the Tri-State area.

But one officer said that before the holidays, all types of robberies increase.

A recap of the robberies:

  • Sept. 13 - The Hagerstown Trust Bank in Boonsboro is robbed at 2:46 p.m.

A convicted murderer who had escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1995 was charged with the crime.

Asa King, 36, was apprehended Dec. 17 in Detroit with the help of the television show "America's Most Wanted."

A Hagerstown teenager, Tyreese Charlee King, 17, of 121 Bethel St., has been charged with driving the getaway car.

  • Oct. 3 - The Farmers and Merchants Bank on West Longmeadow Road north of Hagerstown is robbed about 2 p.m.

Police charge three Hagerstown residents: Randy Edward Hardy, 28, Michael D. Bell, 20, and Sheri Kay Gigeous, 20.

  • Oct. 22 - PNC Bank at 143 E. Queen St., Chambersburg, Pa. is robbed at 1:30 p.m. by a man wielding a knife.

PNC permanently closed the office later that week, but not due to the robbery.

Brown is later charged.

  • Oct. 28 - Three people are charged with attempted armed robbery of the Washington County National Bank in Sharpsburg after police find two loaded semi-automatic handguns and a loaded revolver in their car, police said.

Charged are Darrel Andre Shanton, 24, of Hagerstown, who was a day-care worker briefly before his arrest, Julian D. Pace, 22, of Martinsburg, W.Va., and Paul L. Jackson, 27, of Lancaster, Pa.

  • Nov. 8 - Two men point a pump-action shotgun at bank tellers at Chambersburg Trust's Scotland, Pa., branch.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation later charge three Chambersburg men: Darrell Briddell, 26, formerly of Philadelphia, who had been living at 433 E. King St., Eric L. Kilgore, 25, of 23 N. Fourth St. and Frankie Dean Thomas, 36, of 411 Cedar St.

  • Nov. 13 - Hagerstown Trust Co. branch at 19922 Jefferson Blvd. is robbed at 10:55 a.m.

Michael Shawn Clark, 31, of 141 King St. is charged after he leads police on a high-speed chase through Hagerstown's North End.

  • Nov. 14 - One Valley Bank in Baker Heights, W.Va., is robbed by a man who passes a hand-written note to a teller.

Later charged with the robbery is Elvin Emmanuel Campbell, 39, a homeless outpatient at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va.

  • Nov. 19 - At 1:55 p.m., F&M Trust in Mont Alto, Pa., is robbed by a man brandishing a handgun.

Brown and Jones are charged.

  • Dec. 6 - Chambersburg Trust, 1798 Lincoln Way East, is robbed by a gunman at 9:40 a.m.

Brown is charged.

  • Dec. 12 - Just after noon, a gunman robs Hagerstown Trust Co.'s Prospect Avenue branch.

The suspect is described as a white man, about 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 20 to 30 years old.

After leaving the bank, the robber removes a short, blue winter coat, a long black wig and a bright yellow baseball cap bearing the label Hagerstown Paint and Glass Co. The clues are found on the ground at the east end of Jamison Park on Maple Avenue.

  • Dec. 19 - F&M Trust in Mont Alto, Pa., is robbed at gunpoint at 11:30 a.m.

    Jan. 2 - F&M Trust in Mont Alto, Pa., is robbed at 4:55 p.m.

Brown is charged.

  • Jan. 10 - Home Federal Savings Bank, 1700 Dual Highway in Hagerstown, is robbed at 6:45 p.m. by a man with a sawed-off shotgun.

Police describe the gunman as white, about 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build. He was wearing blue jeans and a dark, hooded sweatshirt, possibly green, police said.

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