Quick Thinking, Info Sharing Helps Round Up CU Robbers

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Quick thinking by a credit union that was robbed and even quicker thinking by one of its employees just days later has led to the arrest of four men suspected of a multi-county crime spree throughout the Buckeye State.

The Akron branch of GenFed Federal Credit Union was robbed on March 17 and credit union officials distributed the robbery details to its outlaying branches in case of another attempt.

Just three days later, a Wadsworth branch teller noticed an unknown man walk into the branch and start to look around the interior.

The teller saw that the man fit the description from the Akron branch robbery and walked out to ask him if she could help, and later informed managers that she had to ask him twice before beginning to tell him about GenFed's benefits and services while also noting his appearance, even down to his shoe style, according to GenFed VP of Marketing Kim Pallas.

"She was purposefully keeping him there while getting a description," Pallas said.

After the man left the building, the teller and fellow employees got a description of the car, the first three digits of the license plate and the direction the car drove in, before then contacting Wadsworth Police Department with the information.

Wadsworth Police spotted a car matching the description, conducted a high-risk "felony stop" and arrested four men: Bryon K. Turner, 26, of Marietta, Ga.; Clifford A. Watson, 20; Tayon L. Bailey, 27; Carlos A. Washington, 25, all from Akron, Ohio.

All were later charged with possession of criminal tools, a felony in Ohio, and are being held at the Median County Jail and face additional charges, according to Wadsworth Police Lt. Robert Wyrick. Wyrick said the men were also in possession of handguns.

Wyrick said he's aware of larger retail operators such as Wal-Mart and Target sending internal alerts to store locations after a robbery but isn't aware of many financial institutions sharing information, and praised the GenFed employee who made the identification. "I think she did a bang-up job," Wadsworth said.

Pallas said GenFed is reviewing the incident to further improve its security, and stressed how important the sharing of information (robber details, suspect and vehicle descriptions) can be between branches and possibly other credit unions in the area. Pallas said each GenFed branch learning robbery details is part of its official policy.

"Getting information from one branch to another really helped us," Pallas said.

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