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Woman charged with robbing Rogers Park, Skokie banks in one day

Willie M. Thomas demanded money from a Wintrust Bank in Skokie and a Byline Bank in Chicago Aug. 15, according to federal prosecutors.

Surveillance footage shows Willie Thomas entering a Wintrust Bank in Skokie.
Surveillance footage shows Willie Thomas entering a Wintrust Bank in Skokie Aug. 15, 2019.

Federal charges have been filed against a woman in two bank robberies in north suburban Skokie and West Rogers Park earlier this month.

Willie M. Thomas robbed both Aug. 15, stealing more than $8,000 in total, according to a criminal complaint filed the next day in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

She entered the Wintrust bank at 7555 N. Western Ave. about 11:50 a.m., prosecutors said. She allegedly gave the teller a note stating she had a gun and needed $50,000 to help a family member. The teller saw a pistol on the woman’s purse and gave her $2,371 in cash. Thomas then left in a Honda vehicle.

About 4 p.m. the same day, Thomas held up a Byline Bank at 8400 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie, according to court documents. She allegedly gave a similar note to a teller, saying she needed a money order for a family member.

As the teller laid out cash, Thomas allegedly demanded more money, threatening to shoot, prosecutors said. She got away with $5,800 and fled in a gunmetal gray sedan.

Investigators identified Thomas as a suspect using the sedan’s license plate, which could be seen in surveillance videos, according to the complaint. A relative later identified her in surveillance photos from the Wintrust robbery.

The FBI previously said the robber in both hold-ups was also suspected in an April 29 bank robbery in Oak Lawn. However, as of Friday, a spokeswoman said the bureau was looking at Thomas’ case as “completely unrelated to the April 29 incident, conducted by separate individuals.”

Thomas, 63, was arrested Thursday and is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, according to the FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons records. She is due to appear in court for a detention hearing Aug. 27.

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