Investigation continues in Sonora bank robbery

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Hold-up occurred afternoon of Jan. 15

By Sarah Bennett

More than two weeks have passed since The Cecilian Bank branch in Sonora was robbed just before closing time, and though state police have received calls concerning potential suspects, no leads have panned out.

Norman Chaffins, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 4, said investigators have interviewed several people, all of whom had alibis. He added none of the potential suspects looked like the man in the bank’s surveillance footage.

Police have described the suspect as a white man in his late teens to mid-20s, 5-foot-9, with a thin build and a brown to red mustache and beard.

He entered the bank at 3:45 p.m. on Jan. 15 and handed a teller a note demanding cash, according to KSP. The teller complied and the suspect left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

It is not the first time the bank at 235 E. Western Ave. has been robbed, said Mayor Larry Copelin, who has held the position for more than 30 years.

About 11 years ago, Copelin said the same bank location was robbed. Not long after the incident, the suspect was arrested, he said.

Copelin, who owns land next to The Cecilian Bank branch, said he was in Elizabethtown when the robbery occurred and learned of it later that afternoon as word of the incident spread.

According to the mayor, the bank robbery has not shaken the town of about 630 residents.

“We don’t get too much excited down here,” Copelin said.

Sonoraresident Paul Stewart owns Sonora Grocery, which is across the street from The Cecilian Bank.

Stewart, who has lived in Sonora most of his life, said the town needs a constant police presence because of its proximity to Interstate 65.

“What we need is somebody around there at all times,” said Stewart, whose business has been burglarized on multiple occasions.

According to KSP’s most recent “Crime in Kentucky” publication, 1,774 robberies were reported to police in 2011. Of those, arrests were made in 534, marking a statewide clearance rate of about 30 percent.

According to the report, that rate is higher than other theft- or property-motivated crimes but low in comparison to more violent crimes, such as murder or assault.

An issue that could make robbery investigations more difficult, Chaffins said, is a suspect’s efforts to conceal his or her identity. He added robberies tend to occur within a matter of seconds, which makes it difficult for the victim to recall details that could identify the suspect.

Chaffins said he believes Post 4’s clearance rate for robberies is higher because of the close-knit communities the troopers serve.

“It makes it easier for us because people know one another,” he said.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.