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Robber may have solicited decoys

MONROE, Wash. – The advertisement on offered $28.50 an hour for landscaping work. It didn’t mention the possibility of being a decoy for a grab-and-run robbery.

A man wearing the outfit specified in the ad – blue, long-sleeved shirt, yellow safety vest, safety glasses or other eye protection and ventilator mask – accosted a Brinks armored truck guard with pepper spray about 11 a.m. Tuesday during a cash delivery to a Bank of America branch, grabbed a bag of money and eluded pursuers after entering a nearby creek.

Left behind were a number of similarly clad workers who answered the ad that said to gather near the bank at late morning in this town about 25 miles northeast of Seattle to work on a city project, Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.

FBI agents were trying to determine the source of the ad on the Internet classified site, Willis said.

“We believe the ad was not a credible ad and that it may have been an attempt to get people dressed like the suspect into the area,” she said.

As of Thursday morning no one had been arrested and the source of the ad remained undetermined, FBI Agent Roberta A. Burroughs said.

Two witnesses chased the robber but could not catch him, and soon after another witness saw a man fitting his description entering nearby Woods Creek, police operations Cmdr. Gary Clopp said.

An inner tube found about 200 yards downstream was held as possible evidence, but Clopp said that “based on where it was sitting, I would venture to guess that there is no way he would have used it.”

“We do know that he got into the (water),” Willis said. “Where he exited and how he got there, we still don’t know.”

The amount of money taken was not disclosed. It was not immediately clear how many workers showed up because of the ad.

“The e-mail specifically said to wear a blue shirt and said, ‘If a project manager is not there, do not leave,’ ” said Mike Stevenson, 30, of Bremerton, one of several workers who gathered at a park.