Cell Phone Bank Robber Arrested?

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At first, suburban Washington's one-woman crime wave looked destined for late night comedy — who was this woman who was so busy yakking on her cell phone that she couldn't stop to rob a bank?

The police in Northern Virginia say they're looking for a woman who's been holding up banks while chatting on her phone.

CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports Saturday morning police moved in on a young woman overheard

Police charge the woman with armed robbery, but Chen reports it may be a copycat crime. The woman didn't have a phone, but looks similar and had the same method — a note, a claim to be armed, and a bold, daylight strike.

"This is the first time that I can recall where we've had a crime committed while the person was using a cell phone," Loudoun County sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell told The Washington Post in a story published Friday. "The question would be whether anyone is on the other end of the line or not."

Investigators believe the woman has hit four Wachovia bank branches in recent weeks in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

In three of those bank jobs, she was talking on a cell phone, while showing the teller a box with a holdup note attached to it. In the most recent holdup, on Nov. 4, in Ashburn, the robber showed the teller a gun.

CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports that all she ever says on the phone is "uh, huh" and "okay," so she may be talking to a lookout outside the bank. Or she may just be pretending to talk to someone.

"We don't find this amusing at all, especially with this last one when she displayed a gun," Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen Simpson told Stewart. "That could get her killed."

The woman is described as well-spoken, with a slight Hispanic accent.

Investigators won't speculate on why she's chosen only Wachovia branches. But as Stewart reports, the video played across the country Friday and tips are pouring in.
  • John Esterbrook

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