Cops still hunting for bank robber | SierraSun.com

Cops still hunting for bank robber

Renee Shadforth, Sierra Sun

Josh MillerOfficer Jason Litchie enters the Plumas Bank on Donner Pass Road just minutes after it was robbed Thursday afternoon.

The manhunt continues for the man who robbed Truckee’s Plumas Bank at gunpoint Jan. 8 for an undisclosed amount of money.

The robbery occurred just before 4 p.m., after the Sierra Sun’s Weekend Edition deadline; however, the story was posted on the Sun’s Web site, at http://www.sierrasun.com.

On Friday the Truckee Police Department announced they had a suspect, and that they were working closely with the FBI to apprehend him.

“We have a very, very strong lead,” said Truckee police officer Jason Litchie.

The suspect, 40-year-old convicted felon Richard Ward Pruden, is also wanted for his alleged involvement in the armed robbery of a Reno bank in August 2003, according to Truckee police. A federal warrant for Pruden’s arrest has been issued by the United States District Court.

Officers learned about robbery after a teller at the Donner Pass Road bank sounded the silent panic alarm. No shots were fired, and no one was physically harmed in the robbery.

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The suspect reportedly robbed the bank with a large silver handgun and escaped on foot, Litchie said at the scene of the robbery Thursday evening.

The suspect was last seen by police advancing eastbound from the bank through the parking lots along Donner Pass Road.

Officers from Truckee police, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol scoured the area in search of the suspect. A CHP helicopter was on the scene to search the area 10 minutes after the robbery was reported and was called off at nightfall, Litchie said.

Despite the search efforts, the suspect escaped and authorities were unable to apprehend him.

Sierra Mountain Middle School and Tahoe Truckee High School were locked down as a safety precaution for a short period of time, according to police reports.

The FBI describes Pruden as a Caucasian male, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 175 pounds, with blues eyes and very short brown hair. He should be considered armed and dangerous, according to the FBI.

During the robbery, the suspect was wearing a black leather jacket, a light blue button-up denim shirt, black jeans and black shoes, said police.

No one in the businesses adjacent to Plumas Bank knew about the robbery until after the suspect fled.

“We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. We just heard about it after,” said Scott Decker, an employee at Nik-n-Willies Pizza.

The bank opened with regular hours the following day, said Plumas Bank Executive Vice President Doug Biddle.

“We offered those folks (employees) who wanted an emotional break the opportunity to take the day off (on Friday), and we had people from other branches come in,” he said.

Plumas Bank is working closely with the Truckee Police Department and the FBI to provide information to lead to the apprehension of the suspect, Biddle said. It is the bank’s policy to not report the amount stolen in robberies, he added.

Plumas Bank employees undergo periodic training to prepare for robberies. Each station at the bank has a flash card with bullet points that give brief information on what to do in the case of a robbery, giving bank employees “something concrete to focus their attention on,” Biddle said.

“The branch did extremely well as far as following our established procedures,” he said. “Kudos to them in that regard.”

The bank is waiting for a more complete report from law enforcement before it determines whether or not it needs to revise its procedure in the event of a bank robbery, Biddle said.

“It’s important that there was no physical harm, and we were very thankful about that,” he said.

If people see the suspect, or think they know the suspect, do not approach or try to detain him, and contact the police department at 550-2323 or the local FBI office at (916) 481-9110.