MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.
The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.
"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.
9/30/08: Bank car robber escapes on Skykomish River
KING 5 North Bureau
North Bureau blog
The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.
But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.
An armored car sits outside a Bank of America branch in Monroe, Wash. on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. Police say a man tried to rob the car, then jumped into a creek that led to the Skykomish River.
"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said Mike, who saw a 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.
From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber 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, Monroe Police.
Investigators believe accomplices could have picked the robber up at a nearby boat launch or park.
The FBI is helping Monroe Police trace the ad and want to talk to anyone who responded.
"Any piece of information anyone has could be the piece of the puzzle we need to apprehend the suspects," said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.
Some Monroe residents, while not endorsing what the robber did, are somewhat amused.
"Creative. Not a right way of doing it, but creative," said Monroe resident Byron Bevard.
"I grew up in LA and I never heard of anything so crazy in my life," said resident Sarah Vazquez.
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.