Leechburg police hope DNA can crack bank robbery case | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Leechburg police hope DNA can crack bank robbery case

Chuck Biedka

Investigators are hoping DNA tests could help identify the culprit who pulled off a bank caper in Leechburg last year.

Someone tunneled from a vacant storefront at 154 Market St. into the wall of the First Commonwealth Bank next door at 152 Market St. in January 2018.

The FBI believes the burglary, captured on video by a bank surveillance camera, happened well before sunrise. The suspect — who may have had help on the outside — was dressed to shield his identity.

Once inside, the suspect used a crowbar to pry open cashier drawers. The authorities haven’t said how much money, if any, was stolen.

“It is still an active FBI investigation, and there are several leads we are following,” FBI Pittsburgh office spokeswoman Catherine Policicchio said Thursday.

Leechburg police Chief Jason Schaeffer said crime scene evidence is being examined.

“We have DNA, and it’s at the crime lab,” he said.

First Commonwealth officials didn’t return requests for comment.

If DNA tests are successful, it won’t be the first time the science has cracked a case for Leechburg police.

Last year, Leechburg police were able to charge a man with an armed robbery that happened two years before. The case involved a man who robbed a gas station at gunpoint. Police say he had wrapped the gun in a towel. When he fled the gas station, he took the gun but left the towel behind.

DNA taken from the towel matched a man who then was arrested and charged with the crime.

Anyone with information about the Leechburg bank robbery is asked to call police at 724-842-8531.

Tunneling heists uncommon

Even if the DNA evidence doesn’t lead to an arrest in the bank heist, the burglary will stand out simply because tunneling into a bank is an uncommon robbery method.

Few such cases are reported worldwide.

The most recent happened in February, when thieves in Belgium tunneled into bank vaults to steal diamonds, according to The Telegraph in the United Kingdom.

And in January, the FBI and police in Pembroke Pines, Fla., investigated a tunnel near a Chase Bank branch that authorities presume was meant as a means to rob the bank.

That case was turned over to the FBI, said a Pembroke Pines police spokeswoman who declined to release details .

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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