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Bank robbery was a first for China Grove

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE ó The man who robbed a China Grove bank Friday morning may have unknowingly stepped into history.
While police continue to search for the robber, locals believe its the first time a China Grove bank has been robbed.
And a $5,000 reward is waiting for anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the robber.
Sgt. Brett Bass, interim police chief, said the department is following up on some good leads and “hot on his trail.”
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, a black man dressed in a black T-shirt and black pants and wearing a white hat, sunglasses and gloves entered Community Bank of Rowan at 313 E. Centerview St. and demanded money from a teller.
The man fled in a late-model gold or beige four-door car.
The man did not display a weapon.
Bruce Jones, president of Community Bank of Rowan, said Tuesday that camera recordings showed the man was in and out of the bank in 45 seconds.
Jones said the N.C. Bankers Association has a $5,000 reward available for a tip leading to an arrest. Tips can be made anonymously. Call toll free 800-209-2293.
Jones said he is already taking steps to provide a more secure door system that will provide staff and customers more protections.
Also, additional cameras will be installed on the exterior to cover all blind spots.
Jones, a China Grove resident and former president of Rowan Bank on Main Street (now CommunityOne) cited the success of a combination metal detector and secure door system at the Enochville branch of CommunityOne.
“We knew it was isolated and we had to do something. It hasn’t been robbed since,” Jones said.
The China Grove branch of Community Bank of Rowan is a couple blocks off Main Street, but set off by the railroad tracks and at times very clogged streets.
“We’re taking measures to make it more secure,” he said.
Locals including Jones and Steve Stroud, a former police chief, said this week this is the first bank robbery in China Grove, at least in anybody’s memory.
“There’s not been a bank robbery in China Grove in 30 years,” Stroud said this week, adding that over the years he’s never heard any stories of a bank robbery in the town.
A search of the Salisbury Post files has dozens of stories about bank robberies across the county dating from the 1930s, but none in China Grove.
Jones, who also lives in China Grove, said he has never heard of a robbery.
Three banks line Main Street ó F&M, CommunityOne and Wachovia ó all virtually within eyesight of the police department.
Following is the description of the robber according to police interviews: Black man in his 20s, approximately six feet, 175 pounds with facial acne and bushy, black, afro-style hair.
Anyone with information is asked to call the China Grove Police Department 704-857-7755.

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