Bank Branch Robbed; May Be Linked to Holdup Ring

A robber who held up a bank inside a supermarket Friday may be part of a robbery ring thought to be responsible for 30 similar robberies in the area since April, the FBI said.

The robbery occurred shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, when a man carrying a plastic bag walked to a Washington Mutual Bank counter inside a Vons supermarket on Lyons Avenue. He slid a note to the teller demanding cash, told her had a gun and threatened to shoot her, authorities said.

Sheriff's Department investigators say the man was probably bluffing about the gun because the teller saw no weapon. Still, she gave him an unspecified amount of money and he walked out the front door.

The robber was in his 20s, clean-shaven, about 200 pounds and 6 feet, 2 inches tall, investigators said. He was wearing sunglasses, a black baseball cap, a short-sleeved shirt with dark-colored stripes and dark pants.

FBI spokesman John Hoos said Friday's robbery may be connected to 30 others of in-store banks conducted by a ring of four people, one of them a woman.

"It is of great concern to us when we have a robbery inside a supermarket," Hoos said. "We're dealing with more customers than . . . in a normal banking institution."

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