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Bank of America reopens after bizarre bomb robbery

September 6, 2012 | 10:38 am

The Bank of America branch in East Los Angeles that was the scene of a bizarre bomb robbery Wednesday reopened Thursday morning.

Employees hustled past reporters as a steady stream of customers used the ATM and filed into the bank, which opened at 9 a.m. A lone security guard stood watch; no police were seen.

Authorities swarmed the Atlantic Boulevard bank Wednesday after the robbery, which began when a pair of masked men kidnapped the bank's manager at her Huntington Park home and strapped what appeared to be an explosive device on her, FBI and Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.

The men then told the woman to get money from the bank vault and toss it in a bag out the back door of the building, authorities said. The pair, who were beyond the reach of cameras, made off with an significant undisclosed sum of money.

The suspected robbers were wearing masks, and there has been little description provided. No arrests have been made.

George Trelles said even though he lives in Glendora, he regularly uses the East L.A. branch because of its proximity to his son's school. He said he missed the commotion Wednesday by 20 minutes.

"I'm glad I did," he said.

Trelles said even though the area is safe, because of the amount of information available about people on the Internet — names, jobs, addresses — he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the heist.

“If somebody wants to connect the dots, it’s not that hard to do,” he said.

PHOTOS: Bank manager forced to wear bomb

Law enforcement sources are scouring potential surveillance video from the area between the bank and the manager's home, where she said she was kidnapped Wednesday morning as she opened her garage.

The heist was considered very unusual because of the nature of the robbery. Bank managers are rarely kidnapped, experts said. Even rarer is the use of an explosive device.

In this case, the men strapped what appeared to be a pipe bomb to the woman's chest and ordered her to rob her own bank.

The device was later removed from her body by a sheriff's bomb squad technician inside the bank. It was detonated outside and later determined to be inert, authorities said.


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-- Sam Quinones in East L.A.