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California bank manager used in robbery

By Michael Martinez and Chuck Conder
September 6, 2012 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
  • NEW: Robbers strapped fake bomb to manager, police say
  • NEW: Bank employee was abducted Wednesday morning
  • Police search for the two robbers; the East Los Angeles bank manager isn't injured

East Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A device attached to the body of a bank manager who was forced to help rob her own bank looked like a bomb but was not one, California law officers said Wednesday night.

Authorities were searching for two men who robbed the bank of "substantial" money earlier in the day. Both wore masks and one reportedly brandished a handgun.

The bank employee told police she was accosted by the men outside her residence in Huntington Park as she was leaving for work Wednesday morning, said Lt. Neal Mongan of the Huntington Park Police Department.

The unidentified employee allegedly was told to drive to the bank in nearby East Los Angeles.

"The employee said she was told it was a bomb and she believed it to be a bomb," Mongan told reporters.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department initially said the Bank of America branch manager was held captive overnight.

The manager entered the bank vault with the device strapped to her body, according to Sheriff's Department spokesman Capt. Mike Parker. The manager threw the money out the back door where the two men were waiting.

The two robbers fled the scene, police said.

Deputies evacuated the bank and kept the employee calm while bomb squad technicians rushed to the scene.

Technicians trained in the procedure "very carefully removed that device from her body," said Parker. "That is a very rare occurrence to actually remove a device directly from a person." A robot later disabled the item.

Parker declined to describe the device, but said it was not explosive.

Mongan said police are looking into why the bank manager was targeted. She was not injured and was still being interviewed later Wednesday.

Asked whether the manager might be an accomplice, Parker replied, "Everything is investigated, but at this time there is no indication of that."

The FBI is assisting in the investigation of the abduction and bank robbery.

The elaborate plot evoked a Hollywood movie script.

"I've been on 28 years and this is the first time I've seen this," Parker said.

Millions of dollars in maple syrup stolen

When police shoot

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.

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