Abduction-Bandits Strike CUs Again

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Two masked men with semiautomatic handguns burst into the home of a Western CU employee and took her and her daughters hostage, forcing the employee to remove money from the CU's vault.

This type of home invasion/abduction robbery has become a disturbing trend, with this latest case believed to be the 10th such crime committed by the same two men, according to local law enforcement, and may be tied to similar cases elsewhere in Ohio and Wisconsin.

What happened to WCU's Linda Battaglia is strikingly similar to what happened to Jeep Country FCU Branch Manager Kathy Scholl in December 2001 and to Educators FCU VP Julie Loyo in December 2002, as well as a female employee of Whitehall CU in May 2003. And credit unions aren't the only targets-at least one bank and a number of check-cashing outlets have had similar incidents.

In all of these cases, investigators have suggested that these are carefully planned crimes and the culprits likely stalked their victims for days to learn their professional and personal routines-right down to when they went to sleep and where in the house they slept.

In the Jeep and Educators cases, a female employee was abducted from her home by armed, masked men who tied up the other family members and then took the CU employee to the branch in order to steal money from the CU

In this most recent case, it appears the robbers timed their attack to coincide with the absence of Battaglia's husband and while both her daughters were out.

The daughters returned shortly thereafter and were tied up with their mother until about 4 a.m., when they were all taken to the credit union.

When Battaglia told her captors that two people are required to open the vault, the robbers waited for other employees to arrive, handcuffing them along with Battaglia and her daughers. After accessing the vault, the robbers fled in Battaglia's car.

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