Westsound robber needed cash to feed kids

The man seen in this photo, wearing a brown felt cowboy hat, passed a note to a Westsound Bank teller in Poulsbo demanding cash on Tuesday. The suspect is still at large. - Photo courtesy of the Poulsbo Police Department
The man seen in this photo, wearing a brown felt cowboy hat, passed a note to a Westsound Bank teller in Poulsbo demanding cash on Tuesday. The suspect is still at large.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Poulsbo Police Department

POULSBO — One Westsound Bank employee, a young woman, wiped tears from her eyes as a Poulsbo Police officer dusted the counter in front of her for fingerprints. Westsound Bank, in a quiet, house-like structure on the corner of State Route 305 and Viking Way in Poulsbo, was robbed Tuesday afternoon.

But in the same way lightning strikes, by Wednesday it was the safest bank in Kitsap.

A pair of employees laughed with a Poulsbo Police officer posted there the day after a man demanded cash and made off, evading authorities from several jurisdictions in an area-wide manhunt. The employees on Wednesday referred official comment to Westsound Bank Senior Vice President Ronnie Colburn, who later declined to make a statement.

Poulsbo officials, along with the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, Washington State Patrol, and Suquamish, S'Klallam, Bainbridge Island and Jefferson County law enforcement agencies, fanned North Kitsap Tuesday afternoon in search of the suspected bank robber. According to Kitsap County Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson, the bank was robbed just before 1:20 p.m. Tuesday. No one was hurt during the robbery, and the suspect was believed to be unarmed.

According to Wilson, the suspect is a white male, approximately 55-65 years old. Poulsbo Police report he walked into the bank and passed a note to a teller, asking for cash. He said he needed to feed his five kids. The suspect told the teller to put the undisclosed amount of money into a bag. He did not display a weapon.

The man, of medium height, was described as wearing a brown felt cowboy hat and a New England Patriots jacket. Poulsbo Police say a quick-thinking bank employee followed the man as he left the bank, and noted he was driving a dark red Chevrolet S-10 or GM truck with a black stripe. He remains at large.

In 2008, Kitsap saw two bank robberies out of 153 that occurred in Washington state, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Seattle Field Office. Last year marked the second year in a row the state has seen a significant bank robbery decline, despite a splotchy country-wide increase for which the determining factor isn't outspokenly clear, though the economy is suspect. Bank violations totaled 6,000 nationally in 2008, which also saw an increase in the amount of anecdotal information — such as a note telling of kids who need to be fed — from offenders.

Between 1996 and 2006, Washington averaged approximately 300 bank robberies per year, but that number dipped below 200 in 2007 and dropped another 13 percent in 2008, according to FBI reports. Investigators attribute Washington's declining rate in part to a program called SafeCatch, which trains bank employees in techniques that assist law enforcement in capturing robbers.

In 2008, 12 percent of robberies in the state involved a firearm; 70 percent of robbers were white males. Washington ranked 14 in total number of bank robberies by state.

Those with information about the Westsound Bank robbery are asked to call the Poulsbo Police Department at (360) 779-3113.

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