Cops search for violent 'takeover' style bank robbers

NEWCASTLE -- Police have dubbed the bank robbers "The Big Top Bandits."

One or both of the armed men have hit five banks all over King County, including a Bank of America in Newcastle a week ago and the Key Bank across the street back in January.

Fortunately, there are surveillance video and still photos of the men.

Police believe someone will know who they are.

It is called a takeover-style bank robbery.

They are heavily armed and they literally take over the bank by force.

They use fear and intimidation. They threaten violence and demand cash.

"What we’re worried about is that they seem to be increasing their violence as they go so we’re worried about the safety of the public. In one of the robberies the suspect fired a shot in the air in another one he struck a teller” King County Sheriff’s spokesman Cindi West said.

The suspects have been caught on surveillance inside the banks.

Sometimes they wear masks and sometime they don’t.

They take control of the bank, employees and customers.

Along with the two banks in Newcastle the crew has hit a Key Bank and a Washington Federal Bank on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle and a Sterling Bank in Burien.

Police are worried and customers are, too.

"I think it would be terrifying, I mean people would have to get counseling for years and years after they go through something like that,” customer Kate Ritter said.

Police say they also have photos of the getaway car used in one of the robberies. It’s a blue 1980s model Mercury Marquis with a very stock in appearance.

"They don’t seem to care how many people are in the bank. Most bank robbers try to be passive, pass a note maybe, but these guy don’t care.  They come in guns drawn demanding money and then running, West said."

Anyone with information about these robberies should call Crime Stoppers or 911.