After a bank heist victims sometimes say: "If only the police had been here!" But at a New Jersey community bank that was held up last Friday, the suspected robber IS a cop.

The robber entered a branch of First Savings Bank in Woodbridge with a gun and demanded $3,500. The teller did as told, said Chris Martin, chief operating officer. But as the robber fled, an alert customer took down the getaway car's license number.

When the police ran a check on the plate, they discovered that the vehicle belongs to one of their own-Patrolman Robert Spinello - who had just reported to work.

Mr. Spinello was taken back to the bank where, officers said, he was identified by the teller. A search of his apartment turned up a gun matching the one used in the holdup and about $3,500 in fifties and hundreds, police said. He is to appear in federal court today.

First Savings, with $1.2 billion of assets, routinely uses off-duty officers as security guards, Mr. Martin said, but no guard was on duty during the robbery. He said the community, including the police force, is still in shock.

"Needless to say, this is not the sort of thing you expect," he said, adding that Mr. Spinello is not a First Savings customer.

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