Bizarre bank robbery uses inner tube and Craigslist

Published: Oct. 1, 2008 at 5:44 PM CDT
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Washington police are searching for a brazen bank robbery suspect after a bizarre heist and getaway.

The suspect maced the guard of an armored truck before making his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.

Even more startlingly, he had placed a Craigslist ad recruiting unsuspecting decoys to serve as a diversion.

People used to pull off the crime didn't even know they were part of it until it was too late.

"He was wearing a dust mask, a particle mask. At first I thought it might be a surgical mask. I still didn't think anything was wrong, just unusual. Then I noticed he had a pump sprayer," said Mitch Ruth, who had looked out his office window and noticed the man walking into the Bank of America at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

The robber, who carried the bag of money as he raced out of the bank, sprayed the guard and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.

One witness said he swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

"We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence," said Debbie Willis of the Monroe Police.

Investigators believe accomplices could have picked the robber up at a nearby boat launch or park.

In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said a construction worker who only identified himself as "Mike".

He saw the Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

"Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask... and, if possible, a blue shirt," he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done.

He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

Police say they now have the Craigslist information and are trying to piece it all together to find the suspect.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, wearing a dark blue shirt, jean shorts and a mask.