Thieves hit two Peninsula banks 

Two midday bank robberies in as many hours had San Mateo County law enforcement officials searching for suspects in two seemingly unrelated holdups.

At noon, two black men armed with a silver handgun entered the Bank of America at 400 El Camino Real in Burlingame, ordered the employees to the side of the bank and took a large, undisclosed amount of cash from three teller stations, Cmdr. Bradley Floyd said.

Floyd said the men are both in their mid-20s and were wearing dark baseball caps and dark sweatshirts. Both men fled out the eastern door on foot. Police officers from San Mateo and Millbrae assisted Burlingame officers with the investigation.

Mark Lucchesi, manager of the Mollie Stone’s grocery store across from the Bank America said his customers reported seeing police officers with shotguns and rifles around the bank during the holdup.

The bank branch was closed for several hours while employees met with police officers following the incident.

Two hours later, a black woman in her early 20s entered the Wells Fargo in Daly City’s Serramonte Center, gave an employee a note, said she had a gun and escaped with an undetermined amount of money, Capt. Mike Edwards said. Edwards described the suspect as approximately 5 feet, 7 inches tall with long hair braided in cornrows, wearing a white hat similar to a "newspaper carrier’s hat" and clear glasses.

In both cases, the suspects were seen fleeing on foot and no injuries were reported.

Serramonte Marketing Manager Cherie Napier said the mall owners — who also own the bank building in the parking lot — were reviewing tapes from the five security cameras set up outside the mall.

Each of the two dozen security guards employed by the mall — including a guard who circles the mall parking lot in a small sport utility vehicle — will be watching for anyone matching the suspect’s description.

Anyone with information on the incidents should contact Burlingame Police at (650) 777-4100 or Daly City Police at (650) 991-8119.

Rash of violent robberies sweeps across Bay Area

FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler said law enforcement agencies are seeing a growing trend in bank robberies in the Bay Area — that the robberies are more violent, increasingly involve groups of people robbing banks across city and county lines and that more juveniles are involved.

"We’re seeing more multijurisdictional, more violent. We’re seeing more, period," Schadler said.

According to FBI statistics gathered annually, San Francisco and San Mateo had seen 32 bank robberies this year a month ago. In six months, the area has already pulled to within nine of 2006’s total of 39 and 2005’s 41.

The man suspected of being the Bay Area’s prolific "Gilligan" robber, Robert Lomas, pleaded not guilty last week to robbing five banks — including banks in Redwood City, San Carlos, Mountain View, Fremont and Union City — and to killing his wife.

"I’ve seen a number of holdups around here over the years," said Mark Lucchesi, manager of Mollie Stone’s Market, across from the Bank of America.

Burlingame Sgt. Don Shepley estimated that there is at least one bank robbery a year in Burlingame.

Examiner Staff Writer David Smith contributed to this report.

jgoldman@examiner.com

dsmith@examiner.com

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