Woman tries First Friday bank heist


News staff writer

June 7, 2006

An alleged robber apparently didn’t take time to survey the surroundings at the corner of Second and Oak streets before stepping into the Bank of America Friday afternoon.

Police arrested Candace Lee Pallotta, 57, of Ridgefield, Wash., on the charge of robbery in the first degree upon her exit from the branch at 115 Oak Ave. in Hood River.

“It sounds bad, but we were almost laughing — who would be dumb enough to rob the bank right next to the police station on a First Friday?” said Craig Cleary, who was working at Discover Bicycles directly across the street at the time of the incident.

He said the woman appeared to be 5’ 6” to 5’ 7” in height and described her disguise as “ludicrous.”

“We couldn’t tell at first if it was a man or woman from the way she was dressed,” he said. “And you could tell it wasn’t a real baby at all … it was way too small.”

Police chief Bruce Ludwig said the department received the report of a robbery in progress at 5:30 p.m. He said the two officers assigned to foot beat for the monthly First Friday event took up positions first outside the bank branch.

Pallotta wore a burgundy-red wig, sunglasses, and carried a doll bundled in blankets, which Ludwig said was part of her disguise of being a mother.

“While she was still inside the bank she passed a demand via note,” Ludwig said. “Fortunately there were no weapons involved (by Pallotta) because there were a lot of people there.”

Police had drawn their weapons at the scene. Ludwig said Pallotta exited right into law enforcement and was in custody within five minutes. Ten police total, half from the city and the other half from the county, responded to the robbery. Pallotta is currently lodged at NORCOR.

The police chief could not release the amount of money Pallotta allegedly demanded. He said while there were no injuries during the robbery, counselors from the county’s trauma team were made available for those inside the bank at the time of the incident. That included five bank employees and three customers.

Eyewitnesses to the incident said the woman appeared to play dumb or be under the influence of some substance.

“She looked out of it,” said Todd Jensen, who was standing 20 feet away across the street.

Cleary said he saw the woman pretend she didn’t know what the cops were talking about.

“She acted like ‘What? Who?’” Cleary said. “She came out and didn’t respond; tried to play dumb to the cop.”

David Weiss and Sarah Wagner stayed late that night at the Gorge Ecology Institute because of the First Friday event.

“I went to open the door and a cop was there. I jokingly invited him in to make bird masks when he told us to stay inside and close the blinds,” Weiss said.

He said the entire incident lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

Ludwig said anyone with more information about the robbery should contact Detective Stan Baker at 386-3942.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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