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Safety equipment fails to halt fourth robbery

Employees at the First National Bank of Pasco at 4518 Gall Blvd. are getting used to handing over cash to masked men.

The bank was robbed Monday for the fourth time in little more than a year.

None of the five employees and one customer in the bank were injured.

Authorities said two men, armed with what appeared to be semi-automatic handguns, entered the bank about 9:40 a.m., shouting for money.

While the men robbed two tellers, the four other witnesses were forced to lie on the floor. The men took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled.

Witnesses said the robbers might have driven away in a late model black Kia headed southbound on U.S. 301. They remained at large Monday.

Witnesses described both robbers as in their mid to late 20s, weighing 160 to 180 pounds and 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall. They were wearing dark clothing and had bandanas covering the lower parts of their faces, reports stated.

Such robberies are the reason J. Lamar Roberts, First National's president and CEO, spent a hefty sum of money earlier this year to make all three of the bank's locations safer.

In February, he ordered the installation of "bandit barriers," bulletproof glass windows that stretch from floor to ceiling.

The bank also installed less visible security equipment, though Roberts wouldn't discuss details.

None of it was enough to prevent Monday's robbery.

"We plan for the worst and hope for the best," said Roberts, who met with Sheriff Bob White after Monday's robbery. "We're disappointed when something like this happens. We've shown that the (bulletproof glass) stops bullets, not robberies."

The bank was last robbed on Jan. 22, when a masked man with a small revolver demanded money from tellers. On Oct. 18, a man with a chrome-plated pistol and a Halloween mask escaped with cash as well.

And on March 3, 2000, another man handed a teller a note demanding money. Though no weapon was displayed in that incident, he also escaped with cash.

First National Bank of Pasco has two other locations at 37215 State Road 54 in Zephyrhills, and in Dade City at 13315 U.S. 301.