Branch Manager Abducted In Middle Of Night Describes Ordeal

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The manager of a credit union branch here snatched from her home in the middle of the night by robbers, driven at gunpoint to the branch and ordered to open the vault while her family was held hostage, said she isn't sure there was anything that could have been done to prevent it.

"The minute they kicked in the door, they were in my bedroom in seconds. They knew exactly where to go. It's clear they had been following me, probably for days, to learn my routine," Scholl told The Credit Union Journal. "It was 1:30 in the morning when they kicked in the door and started shouting, 'Police! Police! Don't move, or we'll shoot!' They put a gun to my chest and got my husband and daughter up. They duct-taped my husband's hands behind his back. They had cut the phone wires before they came in. They said to me, 'We know you have the keys and the combination.'"

Scholl, 51, has been in credit unions for 20 years, but this was the first time she had ever been robbed. Her 21-year- old daughter, who is also legally blind, was terrified as Scholl tried to explain to the robbers that while she had the keys, she didn't have the combination-not at home with her.

"At first they didn't believe me, but I explained to them that I didn't bring that home with me. I tried to describe for them where they could find the combination. I don't think they had originally planned to take me to the credit union, but after I tried to explain where they could find the combination, the guy who was getting ready to duct tape my hands together said, 'Forget it, you're going to have to come with me,'" Scholl related.

The original plan, Scholl believes, was for one assailant to hold the family hostage at gun point at the house while the other partner went to the credit union with the keys and combination in hand.

Instead, Scholl had to leave her husband and daughter behind and accompany one of the men to the branch, where she was told that if she pressed a panic button or tried to alert someone in anyway to her plight, her husband and daughter would be killed.

"Now, do I really think they would have killed them? No. But was I willing to take that chance? Of course not," she explained.

Scholl was forced to help the robber load cash and coins into her husband's truck, which the robber then used to transport the booty to another vehicle at a separate location. He then returned the truck to Scholl and told her to drive it home.

"At least we got the truck back, which is more than I expected-they didn't even damage it," Scholl commented.

Looking back on it, was there anything that could have been done differently? Scholl said she doesn't think so.

"There really isn't a lot more we can do. We have a full-time police officer here, that's something we added the last time we got robbed," she said, explaining that the previous robbery involved the vault teller as she was preparing to open the branch in the morning. The teller was forced at gunpoint to let the robbers in and open the vault for them.

'What Else Can You Do?'

Since then, Jeep Country FCU has implemented a policy requiring two people to open the branch together, with one employee watching outside to ensure that the first person is able to open the branch unmolested.

"I just don't know what else you can really do," Scholl noted. "I'm 51 years old, and I've been working in credit unions for 20 years, this is what I've always done. I can't afford not to work, and I can't afford to start over in another profession, so I'm right back at it."

That doesn't mean she hasn't made changes in her personal security, however. "We did get an alarm system at home where if the phone lines are cut, it sends an alarm to the police. But even at that, I have to wonder, if the alarm had gone off in the middle of the heist, or if the police had come to my house while they were still there, what would have happened? Would they have panicked? It's like you can't win, no matter what you do."

Scholl and her family are getting counseling to help them deal with the traumatic event. Scholl has even managed to laugh about it-a little.

"The bank down the street was robbed just days after what happened to me. The robber went in and claimed to have a gun, but it turned out he didn't. The vault teller here, who was robbed a couple years ago at gunpoint-and she was thrown down to the ground-she and I laughed about the bank that got robbed. It was the middle of the day, it was one guy, and he didn't even have a gun. We said, 'That's not a robbery, that's a withdrawal,'" Scholl laughed. "I'm not really laughing at them-when someone tells you they have a gun in their pocket, you don't want to test them. But I have to laugh about it, because if I don't, I'll cry, and I'm sick of doing that."

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