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Crime-hit credit union closes in Homewood

| Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

After enduring five robberies in five years, workers at A-K Valley Federal Credit Union cleaned out their crime-plagued Homewood branch -- never to reopen.

"We just decided we'd had it," said Janet Horn, chief executive of the credit union, regarding the latest incident New Year's Day at the two-story brick office.

The Homewood branch had been robbed by criminals bearing assault rifles on four previous occasions since mid-2004, when the credit union opened there. This time, the credit union's board voted Jan. 5 to shutter the branch, which served 1,630 members.

"We've been fortunate through all of this because no one was hurt," said Horn. "But you can't keep getting robbed at gunpoint and nobody -- not a customer or an employee -- gets hurt."

Headquartered in Lower Burrell, A-K Valley Federal Credit Union had been asked to take over the failed Citizens Community Development Federal Credit Union at the Homewood location by regulator National Credit Union Administration.

The credit union has directed its 1,630 members who had frequented the Homewood branch to do business at any of seven other credit unions. The nearest one is the Allegent Community Federal Credit Union, Downtown. Through shared-service agreements, other credit unions may take deposits or loan payments or service account withdrawals, but they can't originate loans for A-K Valley Federal Credit Union.

PNC Bank also has an office in Homewood.

Founded in 1935, A-K Valley Federal Credit Union originally served only Alcoa workers and their families. It now serves nearly 11,000 members through four area branches and has assets of about $54 million.

The Homewood branch employed two people, whom Horn declined to discuss.

The CEO said the Homewood branch burglar, an unidentified male, did not get away with any cash or members' personal records, which were locked away. Pittsburgh police said yesterday that they are investigating but have made no arrests.

"The crime is bad there," said Horn.

She cited a nearby Rite Aid pharmacy and a KFC chicken outlet that each closed in the past two years because of fatal shootings.

A-K Valley Federal Credit Union could consider opening a branch in East Liberty, but it's too early to say, Horn said.

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