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Robber strikes second Washington Federal bank in Bellingham in two weeks

BELLINGHAM — For the second time in two weeks, a Washington Federal bank branch in Bellingham was robbed by a white man in a black hat in the late afternoon on a Friday.

A man — wearing a cream-colored striped shirt and a black hat — walked into the Lakeway Drive branch of the bank around 3:40 p.m. Friday, July 25. He slipped a note to the teller, demanding cash. He did not flash a gun or weapon, said Bellingham Police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. Afterward the man took the note with him and walked east on Lakeway.

Police and a U.S. border helicopter scoured the area but couldn't find him. A police dog tracked a scent a half-block to the east, where it vanished. Officers suspect he may have jumped into a vehicle, but nobody saw him get away.

Some passersby noticed the man lingering outside the bank about 15 minutes before the robbery, Vander Yacht said. Detectives continued to comb through security footage from nearby businesses, to try to get a better look at the suspect.

Other witnesses noted the man had a "ruddy" face and might have been wearing a grayish blond wig under his hat. The description, and the M.O., might be a match for a man in a black hat and sunglasses who robbed another Washington Federal branch July 18 at 4110 Meridian St. That robber remained at large this week. Security footage showed he escaped in a green mid-'90s Land Rover Discovery, according to Bellingham police.

Police pulled over a number of greenish Land Rovers in town on the afternoon of July 25, to no avail.

Earlier this week police noted the robber in the Meridian Street incident looked like a man dubbed the "Alabama Band Bandit" by Washington's Most Wanted. The "bandit" is suspected of robbing two banks in the past three weeks in Shoreline and Martha Lake. In at least one of the robberies the suspect fled in a blue-green Nissan Pathfinder with a distinctive dark hood, possibly driven by a woman.

So far, police haven't confirmed that the Bellingham robberies are connected to each other, or to the robberies in King and Snohomish counties.

For live updates, follow @bhamcrime and @BellinghamPD on Twitter. (The Bellingham Police Department tweeted the above photo of the suspect within 20 minutes.)

Call 911 if you see or recognize the suspect. For less-urgent tips, call the Bellingham police tip line at 360-778-8611.

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