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Local bank robbed: Authorities think suspect may have committed similar crime near Athens

A man who robbed a bank in Thomson on Monday may be responsible for a similar bank robbery that same day near Athens, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.

The robberies at the Regions Bank branch, located on West Hill Street in Thomson, as well as an Athens First Bank & Trust branch, located on Epps Bridge Parkway, are believed to have been committed by a man fitting the same description, according to Anthony Russo, senior resident supervisory special agent in-charge of the FBI office in Augusta.

Special Agent Russo, along with another agent, came to Thomson and conferred with agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about the bank robbery in Thomson, which occurred about 11:38 a.m. The Thomson Police Department called in both state and federal authorities to assist them in their investigation, according to Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the GBI Region 7 office in Thomson.

Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway said the robber, described as a white man, standing about 5-10, weighing approximately 230 lbs., walked into the Regions Bank branch office and demanded money from a teller.

"He never brandished a gun," Chief Hathaway said. "He kept one hand in his pocket."

The teller complied with the robber's demand, the police chief added. The man, who had a full white beard, left the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.

The robber last was seen wearing glasses, a blue and green windbreaker and a green baseball cap, according to Agent Nicholson.

Authorities also received information that alerted them to be on the lookout for a Volvo that may have been used by the bank robber as a getaway car. A search of the immediate area by police officers, deputies with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and GBI agents failed to turn up the man's whereabouts.

At least two men were questioned by lawmen shortly after the robbery in Thomson. One was interviewed on Knox Avenue, while another man, closely resembling the robber was questioned at a nearby dry cleaners.

About 3 p.m. on Monday, a man fitting the same description walked into the bank in Oconee County and demanded money from a teller in a similar fashion, according to Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry.

The sheriff said the man who robbed the branch bank in Thomson "strongly resembles" the man who robbed the branch bank in Watkinsville. Like the crime in Thomson, a gun was never seen in that robbery, he added.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information about either of these robberies to notify the FBI's Augusta office at 706-722 -3702, the GBI's Thomson office at 706-595-2575 or the Thomson Police Department at 706-595-2166.

Morris News Service reports were used in this report.

Web posted on Thursday, December 06, 2007

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