SOUTH CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (STMW/WBBM) – Police said Saturday’s robbery of a TCF Bank in South Chicago Heights in which a robber threatened a bank teller with acid follows a rash of similar crimes against the bank chain involving threats where no weapon is actually displayed.

The robbery occurred about 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the bank, which is located in a Jewel-Osco, 3220 Chicago Road, police said.

On Monday the Chicago Council’s Finance Committee recommended an ordinance that would increase the minimum fine for  possession of caustic substances, including sulfuric acid, to $500 from $50. It already is a violation of Chicago’s municipal code for the general public to possess sulfuric acid.

According to officials, a man walked up to the bank teller, a woman, and claimed he had a container of acid hidden inside his coat. He said he wanted only $100 bills out of a money drawer and threatened to toss the acid on the teller if she sounded any alarm, police said.

Neither the teller nor anyone else saw the container.

The teller said she had no money, so she notified the bank’s manager, police said. He approached the robber, who reiterated his threat, and the manager opened a drawer full of money.

The manager grabbed a handful of cash and gave it to the robber, who turned around, exited the doors and jogged north until he disappeared into a passing crowd. He is believed to have acted alone.

Police said the robber, who got away with about $600, appeared to be about 50 years old. He was wearing a white shirt, a light-colored jacket, glasses and a black knit hat.

The crime took only two to three minutes, police said. During that span, bank workers notified South Chicago Heights police via a silent alarm.

Police Chief Bill Joyce said the investigation and all videos and photographs have been turned over to the FBI.

An FBI spokesman said the bureau was investigating leads, and no one was in custody Monday.

Joyce said that although TCF branches are targeted because of their locations in grocery stores, it was the “first time in a long time” that this particular location had been robbed.

He said TCF officials told him Saturday’s crime followed a string of recent unsolved TCF bank robberies in which the robbers have threatened tellers and managers with weapons that no one has actually seen.

“It’s something we would prefer to avoid, but sometimes these (robberies) are unavoidable,” Joyce said. “That was something no one ever wants in their community.”

Anyone with information about the robbery is encouraged to call the FBI main office at (312) 421-6700.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. WBBM contributed to this report.)

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