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April 11, 2013

FBI, police searching for 'Merrimack Valley Bandit'

$10,000 reward offered for information leading to capture

They are now calling him the “Merrimack Valley Bandit.”

The FBI and local police departments are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in seven armed bank robberies in the area since February, including one of the TD Bank in Groveland on Tuesday.

The robbery was the latest in a series of bank heists in area communities. Methuen and Lawrence police detectives formed a task force with the FBI last week as they work to solve the six previous bank robberies in the area since February — all but one of them involving a TD Bank branch. All but one of the robberies involved a handgun.

In each of the robberies, the suspect was similarly dressed in a hooded sweatshirt with his face partially concealed. The suspect is believed to be an 18- to 24-year-old male, between 5-feet, 6-inches to 5-feet, 8-inches tall, with a stocky build and thin eyebrows.

Law enforcement is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to his arrest.

In a press release issued yesterday, the FBI in Boston notes that in each of the robberies the suspect used a small handgun and pointed it at the tellers. In some of the heists, he threatened to harm the tellers should they disobey his commands. To facilitate his getaway, the robber may have had an accomplice waiting nearby in a white or light-colored car.

Yesterday, police said they were making progress in the investigation and following leads in Tuesday’s robbery.

On that afternoon, Groveland Police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz and two officers responded to the report of a bank robbery in progress at the TD Bank branch at 280 Main St.

The suspect walked into the bank lobby wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, a dark ski mask and faded blue jeans and possibly Timberland work boots. He approached the teller’s counter, held up a black firearm, and demanded money.

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