While Baltimore had a record 98th bank holdup yesterday, police in the often sleepy Cecil County town of Rising Sun reported their first of the year -- and first since the 1920s.
The Baltimore holdup occurred just before noon, when a man claiming to have a bomb took an undisclosed amount of money from the Maryland Permanent Bank and Trust Co. in the 6500 block of Reisterstown Road.
City police said the man placed a package on the counter and handed the teller a note saying the package was a bomb. After being given the cash, the robber placed his package by the door as he left. Police later determined that the "bomb" was a fake.
In Baltimore County, meanwhile, a bumbling gunman robbed the Overlea branch of the Signet Bank of Maryland of cash -- and a concealed explosive dye pack -- for the second straight day.
Baltimore County police said the Signet branch in the 6800 block of Belair Road was robbed at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday by a man in his 20s who produced a gun, vaulted the counter and stuffed cash from a teller's drawer into his clothing.
What he didn't know was that the bundle of cash contained an exploding dye pack, according to Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger.
It was not clear whether Tuesday's booby trap detonated -- staining the money, if not the robber.
But yesterday, about the same time, the same man turned up, drew his gun and announced to employees and customers, "You got me yesterday." He ordered a teller to put money into a plastic grocery bag. The teller complied, and the robber ran out the front door.
This time, the dye pack exploded as soon as he reached Belair Road. He fled on foot.
The surge in bank robberies in Baltimore and statewide reached Rising Sun (population roughly 1,500) at 10:30 a.m. Police said a man in a hooded, light blue sweat-shirt, with a dust-filter mask over his face, approached the tellers' counter at the County Bank and Trust Co. on East Main Street and announced a holdup.
The robber, who displayed no weapon but held a hand in the front pocket of his sweatshirt as if he had a gun, took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing.
Rising Sun Police Chief George M. Walker said a bank director and the visiting manager of another County Bank branch chased the robber but lost him. He was believed to have escaped in a car that had been parked more than a block away.
"This is the first bank robbery we've had in Rising Sun since the 1920s," said Chief Walker, who did not have the precise date of the last such incident.
Chief Walker said the number of crimes in Rising Sun appears to have decreased this year, but he noted an increase in "the seriousness of our crimes" -- among then a homicide in March.
Still, he said, "this place is a paradise compared to Baltimore."