Shoe String Bandits Strike Ray City Bank

In 1972 the headline news in the Ray City, GA area was the robbery of the Ray City Bank.

Ray City, GA Bank robbed in 1972

 Coffee County Progress, June 19, 1972

Ray City Bank Robbed of $3,869

Friday morning, June 16, the Ray City Bank, Berrien County, was held up by two armed black men. They escaped with $3869.90 from the safe and cash drawer.  As  of this time no one has been apprehended.
Chief of police, Johnny Wood, says his department is working with state and federal officials around the clock.
In addition to stealing money from the bank, the robbers locked three employees and two customers in the bank vault after confiscating the money.
Funds at the bank were insured by Fireman’s Insurance Company, and the stolen loot has already been replaced, according to bank president Lawson Fountain.

Eye Witness Report

Head Teller at the Ray City Bank, Mrs. Betty Buerger, gave the Progress her account of the robbery. It is as follows:
“Two black men entered the bank together, one was six feet tall, weighing about 180 pounds, looked to be between 20 and 25 years of age. He was wearing a tan shirt, flared, tight brown pants. He wore his hair in an Afro style and had a moustache.
“The other robber who was holding a snub-nosed pistol, was about five feet six inches tall, wore a purple shirt, and also wore his hair Afro style. He did not speak very much during the time they were in the bank.
“The tall robber came to my teller cage and asked to have two $20.00 bills changed for forty ones. Then the short fellow came in behind me with his pistol drawn.
“About that time the tall man, as he picked up his forty dollars in one dollar bills shoved a homemade pillow case in my cage, and said, ‘hurry up, I don’t want to hurt you.’
“I then emptied my cash drawer into the pillow case and at that time he motioned for me to go to the vault, and pulled the vault door open. He emptied the safe of 500 one dollar bills, crammed it into his pillow case and proceeded to empty John Robinson’s personal cash bag from the vault.
“After opening a new package of shoe strings, the robber tied my hands behind my back, told me to sit on the floor of the vault and tied my feet together.
“Mrs. Marilyn Blyler, another teller, returned from the post office and the pair tied her up and closed the vault door.
“At this time a customer John Brantley and his son Walter entered the bank building, and they were herded into the vault  and were quickly followed by Jimmy Fountain, son of President Lawson Fountain.
” The Robbers asked Jimmy how to lock the vault and Jimmy obliged. As soon as the door was locked the robbers made a clean get-a-way.”
Vault prisoners were concerned for the health of Mr. Brantley, who was reported to be in poor health, but he calmed the others by telling them, “It won’t be long before someone comes, because our wives are outside.
Mrs. Brantley came into the office, did not say anything but coughed. Mr. Brantley said “That’s Hazel, and called to her, reported the bank had been robbed and that he and other employees were locked in the vault, and asked her to get the police.
Jackie Giddens came into the bank and Mrs. Bueger told him how to unlock the vault and within thirty minutes from their lock-in they were all free and breathing a sigh of relief.

The five by five foot concrete and steel vault posed no immediate danger, but could have been disastrous if it had not been opened in a short time.

Witnesses all say they had never seen either of the men before, but from accents they were believed to have been from the North. Both were calm, cool, and collected, indicating they were professionals.

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