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United Bank on Berryville Avenue Working to Increase Security

Within the past four years, United Bank on Berryville Avenue has been robbed four times and had one attempted robbery
WINCHESTER, VA - Within the past four years, United Bank on Berryville Avenue has been robbed four times and had one attempted robbery.
 
Now, new precautions are being taken to prevent more from happening.
 
"We have a bunch of security experts that we work with who are advising us on what's the best way to secure this building given the physical characteristics," says Bill Buettin, president of Northern Shenandoah Valley United Bank.
 
Benjamin Sebastian robbed the bank in November 2010 and pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery.
 
Then, in October 2011, it was robbed by James Whittlesey. He was sentenced to six life sentences for robbing five banks in three states.
 
It was after Whittlesey's robbery that the bank installed the policy where everyone had to be buzzed in at the door.
 
Following that, there was the attempted robbery by John Matthews Jenkins in June 2013. Charges are still pending at the Winchester General District Court.
 
The most recent one took place just this month, August 2013. Charles Franklin Adams III is facing seven charges. One of the seven is for robbing the bank and another one for probation violation.
 
Adams also attempted to escape from a jail officer Monday at the Winchester Medical Center. He was able to get away from the officer and flee to the third floor of the hospital.
 
Shortly after, Adams was caught in the main lobby of the hospital by an off-duty Winchester Fire Department firefighter, Lieutenant Strawderman. Strawderman was able to restrain Adams until the officer was able to secure Adams.
 
Officials believe one of the main reasons the branch has been a frequent target for robberies is because of location. It is close to I-81, with its front doors facing closely to the road, an easy access for cars to jump towards Northern Virginia, of which also Buettin notes, has seen a high number of robberies as well.
 
Buettin says the robbers usually tend to escape to the back door of the alleyway and run off into the neighborhoods behind the building.
 
As the bank is working towards new ways to increase security, police have been patrolling the area more.
 
"We're happy to work with them and try to increase security, increase patrols in that area just to show more police presence," says Lauren Cummings, Winchester Police Department's crime prevention specialist.
 
Within the next few days, the bank will have a security guard on standby as a temporary solution.
 
United Bank has seven branches in the Winchester area. Four out of the five robbers involved in the incidents have been arrested and charged.
 
The strong-armed robbery of February 2009 remains unsolved.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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