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Robberies prompt officials to shut down bank



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May 11, 2011 | 08:41 AM
Bloomfield — After three robberies in less than a year, officials from Talmer Bank and Trust have had enough.

After July 29, the Pell Lake branch of Talmer, formerly First Banking Center, N1264 Park Road, will shut down. Hugh McLean, the president of Talmer's Wisconsin region banks, confirmed this during a telephone interview Thursday, May 5.

"The unfortunate part of this is we've had a number of robberies," McLean said. "We're concerned for the safety of the employees. Some of our customers have even (asked) why we're keeping it open."

The bank was robbed twice last summer and again two months ago.

On June 24, 2010, someone demanded money and entry into the bank vault. Two employees were left inside the vault for less than 15 minutes. The suspect left with an undisclosed amount of money and never was apprehended.

An armed robbery occurred Aug. 31, 2010, at the Pell Lake bank. In that case, Jeremiah J. Ward was sentenced to 13 years in a state prison for his role in the crime. According to court documents, Ward told police he robbed the bank using a BB gun. Two others — Shelby L. Kaleber and David C. Allen II, both of Kenosha — have been charged with armed robbery as party to a crime.

A bomb threat played a role in the March 12 robbery.

According to Bloomfield police, two employees were inside the bank at about 8:20 a.m. preparing to open for business when a male subject called on the telephone.

The subject indicated a bomb had been placed in the vicinity of the bank and instructed the employees to gather money and exit the bank.

The employees followed instructions. When they went outside, a male subject told the employees to turn and not face him. Then, he fled the scene with an undetermined amount of money.

No one has been apprehended in connection with this robbery. However, during a telephone interview shortly after the robbery, Bloomfield Police Sgt. Wilbert Kennedy said no explosives were found.

Operations

Meanwhile, in the days leading up to the bank's closing, McLean said the Pell Lake branch will operate with reduced hours and off-duty police officers on the premises.

"During all operations, they're there," he said.

McLean said Talmer remains committed to serving Pell Lake. He said there are three other branches near the community — one in Genoa City and two in Lake Geneva.

He also said the two tellers who usually work in the Pell Lake branch will maintain jobs at other Talmer branches. One of these tellers, who McLean would not identify, has worked with the bank for 12 years. He said these tellers are happy not to work at the Pell Lake branch anymore.

"It's unfortunate we have to close the branch, but we hope to continue to serve the community," McLean said.

In recent months, customers of this bank have witnessed another major change. In November, the former First Banking Center became First Michigan Bank. Recently, the operation settled on a permanent name — Talmer Bank and Trust — which is on new signs now adorning the walls of all branch offices, including the one in Pell Lake.

McLean stressed the closing of the Pell Lake branch has nothing to do with the name change or any other recent business changes.

"It is a direct result of the robberies," he said.

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