FARMINGTON — The FBI is still searching for the man who robbed Citizens Bank in downtown Farmington on Feb. 13, and the case is one of just two unsolved bank robberies the federal agency is investigating in San Juan County.
The other open case is from Oct. 13, 2010. That's when police say a man, whose face was covered with a dark mask and cap, robbed a teller at gunpoint at Four Corners Community Bank, 2811 E. 20th St. in Farmington.
Frank Fisher, an FBI spokesman, said the teller was at her station doing paperwork when a man walked up to her, pointed a gun in her face and demanded money.
"This was a violent bank robbery," Fisher said of the 2010 armed robbery. "This is a guy we definitely want to get off the streets."
In the most recent robbery at Citizens Bank, 500 W. Broadway Ave. in Farmington, a man handed a teller a note demanding money. He fled from the bank and escaped down an alley west of the bank's parking lot. The man was described as a 5-foot-5-inch Native American wearing a white shirt and a dark stocking cap.
A note demanding money was the most common method of robbing a bank or other financial institution in 2011, the most recent year that FBI crime statistics were available for bank robberies.
A robber used a note in 2,958 of the 5,014 bank robberies that year. The robber used a firearm in 1,242 of the robberies, according to the FBI.
The FBI investigates bank robberies, and the cases are prosecuted in federal court because banks and financial institutions are federally insured, Fisher said.
Fisher said the FBI in New Mexico has a bank robbery arrest rate of about 80 percent. If convicted, a bank robber faces a 20-year prison sentence, and that can increase if a firearm was used.
Since October 2010, there have been five bank robberies in San Juan County, all in Farmington. Those include the two open cases, two robberies that ended in arrest and another robbery that ended when the suspect was shot and killed by Farmington police.
Sheila Mathews, the president of Four Corners Community Bank, said bank robberies are a concern for bank employees.
"It's always a concern, especially in down economic times," she said.
Mathews said banks take measures to deter a robbery, including installing technologically advanced security cameras. Bank staff also complete training with FBI agents so they know how to react in case of a robbery.
Though banks won't reveal the steps their employees are instructed to take if they are robbed, Mathews said the response depends on the situation.
"It depends on the type of robbery — if the robber uses a note, a gun or if it is a group of people," she said. "For every type of robbery, there is a different reaction."
Anyone with information about either one of Farmington's two open bank robberies is asked to call the FBI in Albuquerque at 505-889-1300.
The FBI may pay a $1,000 reward for information leading to a bank robber's arrest and conviction.