Why hasn't Bend serial bank robber been caught?

Police offer some answers; $5,000 reward offered

By the NewsChannel 21 Team
POSTED: 3:57 PM PST December 13, 2013    UPDATED: 11:12 PM PST December 16, 2013 
Bend bank robber still on the loose
BEND, Ore. -

The downtown Bend branch of Home Federal Bank was held up by a masked robber Friday afternoon for the third time in 18 months. The description matches that of a serial robber believed to have held up the same bank twice last year, as well as two holdups of another Bend bank.

A light-complexion man, 5-foot-6 to 5-11, weighing 230 to 260 pounds, used a weapon to demand money around 3:15 p.m. Friday He then ran from the bank, at 805 NW Bond Street, with an undisclosed amount of cash, heading west toward Wall Street, said Bend police Sgt. Nick Parker.

Capt. Jim Porter told NewsChannel 21 Monday evening that police are following up on several tips and reviewing surveillance video.

While they believe the same man is involved in all the holdups, they haven't ruled out more than one person is involved, or that the robber or robbers are from outside of the area.

As for the question of why the repeat bank robber hasn't been caught, Porter said: "It's not uncommon for serial bank robberies to go long, extended periods, especially if they don't get greedy, they don't spend a lot of time in the bank, they're aware of surveillance."

"And again, bank security systems are not specifically set up to catch the bank robber," he added. "Bank security is set up to minimize the risk of anybody getting injured during a bank robbery because just like we're always told, it's only money, vs. someone getting injured."

Whether those answers will suffice for many people, only time will tell. But the reactions we got earlier in the day were what you might expect.

"I'm amazed -- totally amazed," one Bend resident said. "I was amazed the third time. You would think there would be different measures put in place by now." 

NewsChannel 21 called Home Federal Bank on Monday at both the Bend and corporate office to find out if different safety measures might be put in place, but our calls were not returned.

Some people say it might be time to think about adding a guard.

"If I were them, I would, and I would also be wondering if it was something personal. Why them every time?" said another Bend resident.

Bank of America in Bend has a security guard that works certain days of the week. It has not been robbed.

But not everyone thinks having a guard will stop the thieves.

"If somebody is going to do it, they're going to do it whether you've got a guard in there or not," said one downtown shopper.

For now, it's a wait for answers. Whether police find them first, or the bandit's luck runs out.

"He's going to mess up -- eventually they all mess up, and this guy is going to mess up," said one Bend resident.

The suspect last was seen wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and a cloth covering his face, Parker said, adding that no one was injured.

Bend police, Deschutes County sheriff's deputies, FBI agents and Oregon State Police converged on the area, but were unable to find the suspect, Parker said. Three  K-9 units -- two from Bend police, one from the sheriff's office -- also were involved in the manhunt.

Anyone with information was asked to contact county dispatchers at (541) 693-6911 or Bend police at (541) 322-2960.

East Cascade Security is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Separately, under the Crime Stoppers program, you can provide anonymous tips, and could be eligible for a cash reward. The number is 1-877-876-TIPS or use the form on KTVZ.COM's Crime Stoppers page.

The other robberies dated back to Dec. 22, 2011, when the Bank of the Cascades on S. Highway 97 was robbed -- and the same branch was hit on April 9, 2012.

He's also believed to have robbed the same Home Federal Bank on July 30th and Dec. 27th of last year.

In releasing security camera images Friday night, Parker said, "The suspect appears to have similar physical characteristics" to the robber who committed the four previous holdups.

Adding in the recent robbery try at Mid Oregon Credit Union in NE Bend -- where the robber apparently fled without any money -- and that makes six unsolved bank holdups in the city in the past two years.

After Friday's robbery, police converged on the bank and nearby streets, interviewing witnesses as the manhunt began. The Bend-La Pine School Administration Building and Amity Creek Magnet School across Wall Street were briefly locked down as a precaution.

Within minutes, police reportedly were following a car possibly connected to the case for a time, but then said they had lost sight of it. Area highways into and out of town were being monitored.

There also were unconfirmed reports of a possible suspect in custody, followed by reports he apparently did not match the description of the robber. A sweatshirt was found near the Bend Public Library, but it apparently had been there some time and did not match the one seen in Friday's holdup.

Earlier this year, police released an artist's composite drawing of the serial bank robbery suspect, described as a light-skinned, heavyset adult male, 230 to 260 pounds, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-10, who wore a bandana over his face.