A man is suspected of hiding inside the ceiling of a bank for nearly half a day, dropping through and then holding employees hostage in an Oceans 11 style break-in, police said.
The incident occurred on January 3 around 1 p.m. local time when the Newcastle Police Department received a call from employees at a Key Bank for a “possible burglary.” The department’s Facebook post came a month after the incident occurred, with the suspected robber still at large.
According to police, when employees opened the bank on the morning of January 3, they noticed a leak in the ceiling, but initially believed heavy rain was the cause. Shortly after opening the bank, employees reported the leak to their facilities company who “discovered a 3x3ish hole had been cut in the roof,” prompting employees to call police, the post said.
Police said that when they arrived at the bank, the facilities company informed them that it didn’t appear that someone had entered or was hiding within the hole on the roof.
“Additionally, employees who had been inside the bank for 4+ hrs had not heard anything in the ceiling to indicate someone was hiding in the ceiling, so it was suspected someone had tried to gain entry over the weekend but had not or left for an unknown reason,” police said, adding that a burglary report was taken before officers left the scene.
Hours after leaving the scene, the “bank experienced what can be described as an Oceans 11 type bank robbery,” the post said. A robber, who police believe hid in the ceiling for up to 12 hours, dropped down into the bank holding a firearm and took three employees hostage, “zip tying them to cabinets and each other.”
In 1960, the Oceans 11 film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., showcased a group of friends who tried to rob several Las Vegas casinos. In 2001, another version of the film was released with a similar plotline, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and others.
According to police, after the suspected robber dropped down from the ceiling, he demanded access to the bank vault. Despite being told by employees that accessing the vault was impossible due to the bank’s security measures, the suspected robber continued to “terrorize the victims,” police said. The suspected robber eventually left the bank through the front door and is still currently on the run.
“As is typical with any bank robbery and just life in general now, the suspect was wearing a mask so facial recognition / ID is going to be difficult,” police said. “The victim employees told NPD that they believe the suspect was Asian, but that cannot be confirmed and should not rule anyone out.”
Over the past month, the Newcastle Police Department, along with the King County Sheriff’s Office continued to review evidence, but are now asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. The Facebook post includes a picture of the suspected robber and the hole that he dropped through in the ceiling.
Newsweek reached out to the Newcastle Police Department for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.