EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 12, 2013

Regional police watchingfor bank robber 'bandit'

(Continued)

Banks close to the highway is a fact not lost on City Marshal Thomas Howard, who said he and his detectives have taken notice.

“We’re certainly in the planning stages that he’s coming this way,” Howard said.

Another tempting target could be Seabrook, which features several banks on Route 1, again with easier access to Interstate 95. Last month, The Provident Bank branch on Provident Way was robbed and the Sovereign Bank branch on Route 1 has been targeted multiple times. The Provident Bank suspect remains on the loose with local police exploring the possibilities that he also robbed a Provident Bank branch in Hampton, N.H.

The robberies in those two banks were committed by a man wearing a sweatshirt with a hoodie. Police have not said whether they believe there is a connection to the Merrimack Valley Bandit robberies.

Thieves would have a harder time targeting banks in Salisbury and Amesbury, which feature branches close to their downtown areas, well away from interstates 495 and 95. Salisbury banks especially seem less likely to be robbed considering the town’s two banks are located in Salisbury Square, an area that would prove difficult to navigate at high speeds.

But those restrictions mean little to Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler, who said his department has to assume the worst and be ever vigilant.

“Possible? Absolutely. There’s two banks in town,” Fowler said.

Amesbury police Chief Mark Gagnon said he doesn’t expect his community to be hit but added it would be foolish not to be prepared. He also said the fact that the suspect has been pointing a firearm at tellers showed that he is capable of almost anything.

“Anyone with a bank is a potential target,” Gagnon said.

Eagle-Tribune reporter Mike LaBella contributed to this report.

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