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Man passes note, robs Palmetto’s First Bank

PALMETTO — A man passed a threatening note to tellers at a bank Wednesday just before noon and walked away with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to Palmetto Police Department officials.

The man, who was wearing a black baseball cap with a Tampa Bay Rays logo and brown sunglasses, approached the teller at First Bank, 995 Haben Blvd., and handed her a note.

The robber, who was in his late 20s or 30s, was told by the other 20s or 30s, was told by the other teller initially to remove his hat and glasses. He made a slight nod of acknowledgement to the teller before walking over to the other counter, said Palmetto Police Detective Chris Cavazos.

“She knew what was coming. She got nervous. It took her a little while to function while she was getting the money,” Cavazos said.

The robber, who was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and black shoes over his thin muscular build, wrote a note threatening to harm the teller and asked for no dye pack.

“I’ll kill you,” read part of the note.

According to FBI bank robbery statistics, between July and September 2008 there were 1,358 bank robberies reported nationwide. More than half — 56 percent — of bank robbers used a note to rob the bank.

The robber made a point of averting his face from a bank camera.

Detectives are working to examine footage to get a more detailed image of the robber. They plan to release an image when one comes available.

After the robber left, bank employees contacted authorities. No one was injured.

A vehicle was not seen parked in the bank parking lot after the man ran out the door.

Palmetto Police Deputy Chief Mike Mayer said a sheriff’s dog tracked the suspect’s scent to the rear of the Imperial Gardens Chinese Restaurant, 943 10th St. E.

It’s possible the robber had a vehicle parked near the restaurant in the strip mall about 100 yards away from the bank along U.S. 301, Mayer said.

This is the 13th bank robbery in Manatee County this year and the first bank robbery for the city of Palmetto.

In 2007, there were 15 bank robberies reported in the county. In 2008, that number doubled.

Anyone with any information can contact Detective Cavazos at 723-4587, ext. 124, or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.