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    Suspect in 8 bank robberies a novelty

    The Sheriff's Office says few women brazenly play an active role in bank heists like this thief in sunglasses.

    By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 3, 2002

    TAMPA -- The eight bank robberies are identical. The bandit walks in, wearing large sunglasses, and demands cash.

    No weapon is seen. The robber gets the money and walks out, calm and collected.

    There is one twist: The robber is a woman.

    "How many times have you heard of a female bank robber?" said Hillsborough sheriff's Sgt. Acy Akridge. "It's very unusual."

    Usually women who are involved in bank robberies are driving the getaway cars, said Akridge. This woman, however, is taking the more active role.

    She has robbed eight banks in the past two years, officials say. All were in Carrollwood except one, a World Savings on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

    The first robbery occurred Aug. 8, 2000. The woman, who appears to be in her late 20s or early 30s, robbed the Regions Bank at 3601 W Waters Ave. Her long, dark brown hair was in a ponytail, and she was wearing a green ball cap.

    And sunglasses. In almost every robbery, the woman wears large, oval or square sunglasses. In some cases, before the woman had made clear her intentions, she had been asked by bank employees to remove the sunglasses for security purposes.

    But the woman ignored them and walked up to the tellers to rob them.

    She is brazen, said Akridge. She robbed one bank -- Wachovia on N Dale Mabry Highway -- twice, once in August 2000 and again in February 2002.

    She returned to rob it a third time, but bank employees foiled her plans. She saw them calling law enforcement and walked out.

    "They recognized her when she walked through the door," he said.

    She also tried to rob a Southern Exchange bank on N Dale Mabry twice.

    The robber is between 5 feet 4 and 5 feet 8. She weighs between 135 and 160 pounds. She often wears blue jeans and T-shirts.

    Once, she left a bank in a silver two-door Acura Legend. Another time, it was a white Ford pickup with an extended cab.

    Detectives believe she may live in or near Hillsborough County.

    "Somebody has got to know her," Akridge said.

    Anyone with information about the woman, her whereabouts or the bank robberies, can call Sgt. Acy Akridge at 247-8670 or Crimestoppers at (813) 247-8200 or Crimestoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-TIPS.

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