Philo bank robbery investigated

Philo bank robbery investigated

PHILO – Champaign County sheriff's deputies are continuing to investigate a bank robbery in Philo.

Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said this morning his office and the FBI were jointly investigating the robbery Thursday at the Philo Exchange Bank branch facility at 401 N. Lincoln.

A white male, about 20 years old, 6 feet tall or a little taller, entered the bank between 12:25 to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, the sheriff said.

"He put a plastic bag on the teller's counter, asked the teller to fill it and, under his shirt, displayed a handgun," Walsh said.

The robber was wearing a dark cap and sunglasses and a yellow, long-sleeve Nautica shirt or jacket.

The robber took an undisclosed amount of cash, the sheriff said. Nobody was injured.

Champaign County investigators executed a search warrant and seized some undisclosed evidence Thursday night, according to Walsh.

The investigation is continuing, he said.

Anyone with information about the robbery is urged to call the Champaign County Sheriff's Office at 384-1205 or Champaign County Crimestoppers at 373-8477.

Patrol cars, unmarked squad cars and sport utility vehicles driven by deputies and investigators blocked the entrances to the bank, on the north end of Philo on the west side of Lincoln Avenue, also known as Illinois 130.

Bank officials could be seen inside talking to investigators while investigators outside on the lawn talked on cellphones. A crime scene technician also took pictures.

Philo Mayor Craig Eckert, who is a professor at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, said Thursday evening that when he got back to Philo the bank robbery "was certainly the talk of the town. Everybody knew about it."

Eckert said one worry he has is that the branch bank and two convenience stores are "out there by themselves" on the north side of town.

"I'm just surprised that this would happen in broad daylight," Eckert said. "It would be a little more nerve-wracking if it happened at night."

"I'm just glad that nobody got hurt and would hope that authorities find whoever did this soon and arrest them," Eckert said.

Philo Exchange Bank was robbed in 1999.

Christopher Hutcherson, then 23, of Champaign pleaded guilty to the robbery that occurred Oct. 23, 1998. He admitted he used a paintball gun. He was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution.

At his sentencing in 1999, authorities said Hutcherson stole more than $47,000 from the bank.

The day after the holdup, he spent $2,900 at an Urbana car dealership. Investigators seized the car he purchased and found nearly $36,000 in the car, along with other evidence linking Hutcherson to the robbery.

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