Man robs unguarded bank at knifepoint

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Man robs unguarded bank at knifepoint


The local branch of the Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang, after it was robbed by a masked man on Monday. [YONHAP]

A masked burglar wielding a knife stole around 43 million won ($38,000) in cash from a bank in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang, in broad daylight, police said on Monday.

The incident occurred a little past noon on Monday when employees of the local Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives branch were having lunch in the bank director’s office. One of the female workers went outside to get a drink of water and heard the bathroom door open and shut. She then called over a male employee, police said, and he opened the door to check inside.

Suddenly, a masked man, whom police described as in his 30s, jumped out of the bathroom. Surveillance footage showed two employees walking backward in panic while the suspect, dressed entirely in black save for a khaki baseball cap and sunglasses, threatened them with a knife. The male employee then briefly wrestled with the masked man while his female colleague tried to escape.

The suspected robber then handed them a black travel carrier bag and told them to fill it up with cash. Another employee inside the bank director’s office called the police. After they complied, the masked man escaped from the premises on a motorcycle that was parked nearby.

The entire incident took place in a span of five to six minutes, according to surveillance footage. There were no customers or other employees sitting at the tellers’ desks, and the other employees watched the crime unfold through a surveillance feed in the director’s office.

The local branch employed six workers, including the director, and had no security guards. A police office, however, was located only a minute away from the branch.

The Changwon Police Agency said officers are attempting to identify the suspect’s escape route by deploying police around nearby neighborhoods and analyzing the bank’s surveillance footage. Based on the suspect’s quick movements, police believe he is well acquainted with the Yeongju branch. Officers are trying to determine his physical features through employees’ descriptions of him.

The Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives is a credit union that provides financing to its members with the purpose of developing self-help communities. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and can only borrow funds from public institutions.

A similar robbery occurred last month at the bank’s branch in nearby Yeongcheon County, North Gyeongsang, where another masked man allegedly stole 20 million won before he was caught the same day. Security analysts at many of the smaller branches of these financial institutions are vulnerable to robbery because of their location in remote, rural areas where policing is sparse.

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