Police Credit Quick Arrest in Bank Robbery to Copter

Times Staff Writer

A man walked into an East San Diego bank Wednesday afternoon, escaped with $900 cash and, less than seven minutes later, was apprehended with the woman who drove his getaway car, police said, crediting the arrest to the use of a new high-tech helicopter.

The robbery occurred at the Glendale Federal Savings & Loan at 5998 El Cajon Blvd. Police said the man entered the bank about 4 p.m., placed a brown paper sack on the counter and demanded that the teller hand over the money.

A bank official gave chase after the man left, but the suspect jumped into a 1969 model car, which sped west on El Cajon Boulevard. Police said officers responded in heavy traffic by patrol car and with the use of the new Able 1 helicopter.

Police spokesman Bill Robinson said the officers who were driving got stuck in traffic at Fairmount Avenue and El Cajon. But the helicopter--which the Police Department acquired about a year ago and uses in chases--continued to track the car, whose driver tossed the bag of money out a window. It was quickly recovered by police.

Shortly after 4 p.m., officers arrested Mark A. Constantino, 31, and Laurie Marie Carmack, 19. A 2-year-old girl in the car was turned over to the Hillcrest Receiving Home, Robinson said.

He said officers were aided in the arrest by a dye pack that exploded while tucked in the crotch of the suspect's pants. Robinson said the bank teller had enclosed the pack in the bag of money. The pack sprays both tear gas and dye.

After the arrest, Robinson said, the couple confessed to a robbery earlier this month in Los Angeles.

Robinson said another robbery occurred about 2:35 p.m. Wednesday at the American Savings Bank at 770 Turquoise St. in Pacific Beach. The theft apparently was committed by a serial bandit whom police have nicknamed "the Traveling Man" because he always asks for traveler's checks.

Robinson said it is believed to be the 10th robbery committed by the man since January.

The robber escaped Wednesday with $721.

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