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Medford's first bank heist of 2008 comes early

It didn't take long for Medford to log its first bank robbery of the year.

A balding man wearing sunglasses walked into the Washington Mutual Bank branch inside the Fred Meyer store on Center Drive Wednesday and presented a note to a teller demanding money, said Medford police Lt. Tim Doney.

"No gun was seen, but his actions indicated that he might have a gun," Doney said.

The man then left the bank just after 2:48 p.m. on foot toward the store's parking lot facing Center Drive.

Several customers and bank employees were inside the branch during the robbery. The bank was cleared quickly after the man fled. A sign was placed in the window saying the bank would be temporarily closed, though Fred Meyer remained open.

The bank sits near the store's cash registers, which is a busy area.

Medford detectives worked with FBI agents to analyze surveillance videos taken during the robbery.

The images show a white male adult in his late 30s to early 40s. He had light brown hair and gray facial stubble. He stood approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall and had a medium build.

He wore sunglasses, faded jeans and a blue and black ski jacket.

"We have not determined if he escaped in a vehicle after reaching the parking lot," Doney said.

The area surrounding the store was busy with Medford officers in patrol cars on the lookout for the suspect.

Medford logged three bank robberies during 2007.

Two happened at the Key Bank branch at the corner of Crater Lake Avenue and McAndrews Road. The robberies occurred in September and November.

Investigators arrested a pair of men suspected of those robberies.

The third 2007 robbery was Aug. 2 at the U.S. Bank branch in the Albertsons store on North Phoenix Road. The FBI arrested a 71-year-old suspect from Tillamook in October and attempted to link him to a string of nearly two dozen bank robberies up and down the West Coast in the past two years. The case against Robert Christie, a retired teacher at Tillamook High School, later was dropped by FBI officials when it became clear he was not the robber.

Anyone with information on Wednesday's robbery is asked to call Medford police at 770-4784.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Medford's first bank heist of 2008 comes early