Suspicious package left on counter after Point Loma bank robbery ruled harmless

Incident occurred at AmericanWest Bank

SAN DIEGO - An AmericanWest Bank branch in Point Loma was robbed Wednesday by a man in a gray beret who left behind a suspicious device that was later determined by police to be non-explosive.

The suspected robber got away with an undisclosed amount of cash in the robbery at 1350 Rosecrans St. that was reported at 5 p.m., San Diego police Sgt. David Jennings said.

"He had a large duffel bag with him... pretty much emptied the cash drawer into the duffel bag," said San Diego police Lt. Dawn Summers.

Police say the device he left behind was nothing more than a couple of large batteries with some kind of flesh-colored tape around it and a couple of wires hanging out.

"The device looked suspicious, but it didn't take long to figure out that it was pretty much a fake-type bomb, probably to scare the teller," said Summers.

The bomb squad was initially called, but was not needed, as the device was rendered safe by police at 5:11 p.m., Jennings said.

The bank was evacuated by its manager, Jennings said. No one was injured.

The suspected robber was described as a white man in his 30s with a thin build, who stood about 5 feet 8 inches and had short brown hair. He was wearing a gray beret, a gray striped shirt, long denim shorts and flip flops.

In a similar incident, an Imperial Beach bank branch was robbed Saturday by a man with a suspicious device he left behind, which prompted an evacuation and a visit from the bomb squad who determined it was not explosive, FBI and sheriff's officials said.

Because it is still early in the investigation, police are not ready to connect the two robberies. However, they say there are some strong similarities.

"His demeanor was very calm and he didn't run out of the bank after it was over, so I would say there's maybe a chance he'd done it before," said Summers.


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