Numerous bank robberies plague usually sleepy Venice

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Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 4:04 pm

VENICE, Fla. -- Police are still looking for a suspect in a Venice bank robbery last week. It makes the fourth in 15 months in the Venice area, more than in other parts of the area.

Three of those robberies happened inside the city of Venice. The latest just last week where an armed man came in demanded money and took off. It's certainly keeping detectives busy in a town not known for much crime.

The bold and brazen act took place at the Capital Bank on Venice Avenue. "He committed an armed robbery and left on foot westbound through the parking lot," says Detective Michelle Larock of Venice Police.

Surveillance images show a white male in his late 20's early 30's wearing sunglasses, a ball cap, hooded jacket and blue jeans. He even jumps the counter to get the money. "We have been investigating many leads. There was another suspicious incident the same day in Sarasota that might be related."

Det. Larock says it's the third bank robbery in the city since March of last year. The first was a Fifth Third Bank on U.S. 41 in which a man wearing a straw hat held it up. The suspect indicated he had a bomb. The incident locked down two nearby schools.

In June of 2013, a man wearing a floppy hat and band-aids held up the Bank of America in downtown along Venice Avenue.

A 4th robbery took place just outside city limits in November at a Wells Fargo on U.S. 41. The robber was wearing an Albert Einstein mask. That same location was robbed just a few years earlier as a Wachovia.

"We think there might be reasons why they pick certain banks, due to isolated locations or something along those lines. But not something specifically targeting Venice," says Larock.

These high-risk crimes come with a price if you're caught. Manatee County resident Michael Baird turned out to be the man in the floppy hat at the Bank of America. He was just sentenced for the crime. "The sentence was 20 years on the Bank of America robbery. It is certainly not worth it."

Venice Police say they don't believe the sleepy city is being targeted. But when you look at the numbers though, in the past year Sarasota County has worked just one robbery inside a bank; Manatee County four, and Charlotte County none.

Recently Venice city leaders have discussed adopting a resolution which would have encouraged banks to ban hats and hoodies. It failed, citing privacy issues.

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