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Published: Tuesday, 7/7/2009

Thieves snag bank's safe in Sylvania Township

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A brief chase through Sylvania Township early Monday led township police to a safe stolen earlier in the day from a Fifth Third Bank branch in the township, authorities said.

"It's rare but not unheard of for burglars to take a safe from a bank," said Detective David Jankowski of the township police. "We are in the process of pursuing the leads to apprehend the suspects."

The leads include the recovered safe, the escape vehicle in which it was found, and a bank security-camera tape, Detective Jankowski said.

The safe was heavy enough that it would take more than one person to move it, police said. The detective said he could not think of another case when a safe has been taken from a bank in the township.

A township patrol officer responding to an alarm-company report of a bank robbery in progress arrived at the bank branch at 7536 Central Ave. about 3:35 a.m. and saw a minivan fleeing the scene.

A brief pursuit ensued, during which the officer lost sight of the minivan before catching up with it on Centennial Road near Hill Avenue, at which time the minivan driver stopped the vehicle and ran through a nearby wooded residential area.

The officer stepped out of the car, drew a weapon, and took a few seconds to make sure there wasn't anyone left behind in the van who could ambush him.

In the meantime, the driver fled in near-total darkness, Detective Jankowski said.

The officer then searched the minivan and found the safe, which had flipped on its side. It was unclear at the time whether it had been tempered with, the detective said.

A short time later, area law enforcement agents including a Fulton County canine unit searched the area but did not find the minivan driver.

Police say they believe the driver had let others involved in the robbery out of the van before he stopped and fled.

The bank branch did not open for business yesterday morning.

FBI agents were working the burglary scene later in the morning. An FBI spokesman at the bureau's Toledo office released no further details about the case as of late afternoon.

Contact Mike Sigov at:

sigov@theblade.com

or 419-724-6089



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