Brazen robbery shocks law enforcers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Brazen robbery shocks law enforcers

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July 10, 2006

Lee County -- Investigators in Lee County are working to track down the crooks who snatched $12,000  from a clerk Saturday as she prepared to make a bank deposit. The robbers got away, but not without a fight.  

Other than perhaps the mall, the most crowded place you could probably go during the weekend is Wal-Mart. So, why two robbers chose to rob the gas station directly in front of it isn't known.

Perhaps they were hoping to blend in with the crowd. If that was the plan, it worked.    

Lunch time. The busiest time of the day for most fast food restaurants, especially on weekends. That's why Bruce Watford is opening a Sonic next to Wal-Mart, he knows there's a lot of traffic here.

And that's why he was so shocked that a robbery took place just a few feet away at Murphy USA gas station at lunchtime on Saturday. "They had a plan and it was pretty bold that they did it when they did it," said Watford.

Watford didn't see the robbery, but he and Jay Dykes, the building supervisor, heard and saw what happened right after.   "I heard a lady blowing the horn in a white Tahoe over here and I kind of glanced over and she was chasing this young fella and it looked like he had something in his hand," Dykes says.

Dykes thought the man stole the woman's pocket book. Little did he know the suspect snatched $12,000.  

Investigators believe the suspects where somewhere in the area of the parking lot directly in front of the Fashion Bug. They were waiting in their car and watching to see when the cashier would walk out with the deposit bag. When she walked out, that's when they hit.

Investigator Miles O'Quinn says, "She was walking out to her car, the subject was actually parked in Wal-Mart's parking lot and came between the cars and meet her at her car, knocked her to the ground and snatched the bag off of her arm that contained the money for the deposit."

Sixty-two-year-old cashier, Jane Rayburn was hurt, but not badly. She was back at work today, but said she wasn't allowed to comment on the robbery.

Rayburn doesn't usually make bank deposits, but it appears someone knew she would make one on Saturday. "It appears they had an idea about what time it may be dropped," O'Quinn says.

Maybe an inside job? "Not sure at this time."

"From my perspective, I would almost think it was an inside job, because they had to know who it was that was carrying the deposits out, when the deposits were being carried out and they watched her."

But Watford will be watching out for his own employees now. He says they'll take extra precautions to keep them safe while making deposits. "When we take bank deposits, we'll make sure we've got two that always go, and we'll take them during random parts of the day and we do more frequent deposits."

"When you get ready to do it, call us, a few minutes ahead of time and one of our officers will come by and escort you to the bank, especially when making large deposits," O'Quinn says.  

The best description of the suspect who snatched the purse is that he is black and in his early 20's. He was wearing a white tank top, dark jeans and a white mask during the robbery. The driver is also described as a black man with a large build.

Investigators believe the getaway car was a Chevy Impala, navy or dark blue with a new paint job. The vehicle should now have front end damage to the passenger's side where it rammed another vehicle.

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