Bank robber discovers police waiting for him


An unarmed man robbed the Columbia bank yesterday where he usually does business and then casually walked outside -- right into the hands of police.

Peter Laurence Axlerod, 49, who lives in the 5700 block of Stevens Forest Road in Columbia's Oakland Mills village -- a five-minute walk from the bank -- was charged with robbery and theft, Howard County Police said.

He was being held at the Howard County Detention Center on $100,000 bail yesterday and was due to appear for a bond review hearing this morning, a District Court commissioner said.

Sgt. Steve Keller, a police spokesman, said the incident began when the man entered the First National Bank of Maryland in the Oakland Mills Village Center about 9 a.m. yesterday and passed a teller a note demanding that 2,600 $1 bills be placed in his briefcase.

The man -- whom employees recognized as a regular customer -- never showed the teller a handgun, Sergeant Keller said, but the teller complied. Meanwhile, another bank employee telephoned 911 to report someone was robbing the bank.

Police officers had surrounded the branch by 9:10 a.m. and waited for the man to leave. They decided not to rush the bank and risk bystanders' being hurt.

When the man walked out with the briefcase in hand, officers ordered him to stop, but he continued walking away, police said.

After the officers ordered him to stop several more times, he did and was arrested, Sergeant Keller said.

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