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Rise in area bank robberies linked to carjacking trend

Posted at 7:59 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 20:00:31-05

Brazen bank robberies all across Northeast Ohio are becoming more frequent and getting more and more violent.

News 5 has learned that in a lot of these cases, the crime started well before the robbers walked into the bank.

And there's another crime trend we've been noticing - carjackings. News 5 learned these stolen vehicles are playing a key role in these bank plots.

"I kind of caught him out of the corner of my eye. He was walking right toward us," said photographer Robert Gladys.

On a hot summer day in July, Gladys' shoot at the Italian gardens came to an abrupt end when he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

"He asked for the keys to my car, then he looked at the girl and asked for her purse," Gladys said.

After handing over his keys, the man then demanded Gladys' camera, too. Then he took off.  

"He got to my car and he just got into my car and locked the door as I got to it," said Gladys.

Gladys said he was knocked over as the man blew out of the parking lot, hitting another car on the way.

"Even the cop said this should be easy to find cause he is driving around in a wreck," Gladys said.

But a month went by, and Gladys heard nothing.

What he didn't know was at that time his 2017 Camry became the getaway car during a bank robbery in Shaker Square. The FBI released photos of the two armed men they say demanded cash from the teller. A third suspect was waiting outside in Gladys' Camry.

There was a similar scenario at a bank robbery in South Euclid. Suspected bank robbers took off in a stolen car. That same month, bank robbers in Fairview led police on a chase in another stolen vehicle.

It wouldn't be until September that Gladys would get a call that his car was found.

"The car is totally smashed from the front... Looks like it just ran into a semi," said Gladys.

The thousands of dollars in equipment he had in the trunk were gone.

While Gladys has since replaced much of his equipment, his sense of security he says he can't get back.

"I am looking over my shoulder a lot," said Gladys.