Robbery suspect may be seeing red after dye pack blew
CHAMPAIGN — Police are looking for a man who may have red paint on his body in connection with a bank robbery late Friday morning in Champaign.
Champaign police Lt. Robert Rea said that a man entered First Midwest Bank, 812 W. Springfield Ave., at 11:50 a.m., handed the teller a note, demanded money and left, heading east on foot.
Champaign Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said the robber implied he had a gun, but witnesses never actually saw one displayed. The robber was in the bank for less than a minute.
Rea did not have information on the number of people in the bank at the time of the robbery. Nobody in the bank was reported hurt.
The robber was described as a black man, about 6 feet, 2 inches tall. He has a thin build, is about 35 years old and was wearing a dark blue baseball cap, a long dreadlock-looking wig down to his waist, sunglasses, an orange-brown-and-tan plaid button-up shirt and blue jeans.
Rea said a dye pack (a radio-controlled incendiary device used by some banks to mark stolen cash with dye) went off as the robber made his getaway.
Daniels said a witness reported seeing what appeared to be a red dye pack exploding while in the possession of the robber. The explosion may have caused red dye to get on the robber's clothing and may have injured him while he was just east of the bank.
"We might be looking for a guy with a bunch of paint in his face," Rea said. "He may have red dye on his body somewhere."
Rea said the red paint may not be on the man's face, but could be on his hands or another part of his body.
"From what I know, a lot of banks" use dye packs, Rea said. "It's not always successful, and they (the robbers) don't always get that cash, and they don't always open it up at the scene."
Jon Dessen, the owner of Illini Studio, watched the incident from his business, across the street from the bank.
"I saw a gentleman with long dreadlocks that went below his armpits walking kind of with a purpose," Dessen said. "He had sunglasses on. Maybe 4 or 5 minutes later, I saw what looked like a pink smoke bomb go off. We saw the smoke dissipate. Then, not a minute or two later, the cops started showing up."
Anybody with information about the robbery should call Champaign police at 351-4545 or Champaign County Crimestoppers at 217-373-8477. Tips can also be sent at http://www.373tips.com or by text by sending CCTIP plus the tip to CRIMES (274637).
The same bank was robbed on March 28, and the man responsible, Lorenzo Cooper, 58, of Champaign, has already pleaded guilty and is serving a five-year prison term.
Rea said the bank's location may have made it attractive for a robbery.
"It is on a corner and right near a residential neighborhood," Rea said.
"There's a lot of places you can hide quickly and a lot of places you can hide a car on a side street."
Rea said police were looking at video from a surveillance camera.
A police dog sent to the scene was able to track the robber's path for a short distance but was unable to find him, Rea said.
This marks the seventh bank robbery this year in Champaign and Urbana. Others have been at:
— First Midwest Bank, 812 W. Springfield Ave., C., on March 28.
— First Financial Bank, 1611 S. Prospect Ave., C., on May 3.
— Hickory Point Bank & Trust, 701 Devonshire Drive, C., on May 4.
— Central Illinois Credit Union, 2106 West John St., C., on May 8.
— Marine Bank, 1001 S. Neil St., C., on May 21.
— Heartland Bank, 1812 S. Philo Road, U., on June 28.
Champaign police made arrests that led to four different men being charged with three of those holdups.