Shell Knob bank is target of heist

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Over 50 safety deposit boxes were broken into at the Arvest Bank branch in Shell Knob during the early morning hours of March 13, and the FBI has been called in to help investigate the robbery.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly describes the burglars as "professionals" who were able to blast out the back door and disarm the bank's alarm system.

The subjects got into about 54 safety deposit boxes and stole an undetermined amount of cash and valuables. Law enforcement officers are still contacting the victims in an effort to determine exactly what was stolen.

According to Epperly, the crime is similar to bank heists conducted in Oklahoma and Kansas, and he and his officers are working closely with the FBI to investigate the case.

The burglars also attempted to get into the bank's safe. The suspects stole a flatbed pickup and a skid steer in Shell Knob and apparently had plans to use the stolen vehicles to transport the bank's safe, which was found pulled out from the wall but still inside the bank building.

Some of the security deposit boxes were retrieved from outside Table Rock Auto where the thieves had emptied the contents and left the boxes for officers to find. A large drill bit was used to drill out the safety deposit box locks.

"They definitely knew what they were doing," said Epperly.

From the morning of March 13 until the morning of March 18, off-duty officers conducted around-the-clock surveillance of the bank branch while the company worked to get its security system back up, said Epperly.

"We are continuing to work on this case and hope to develop some suspects soon," said Epperly.

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