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The Blotter

The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

May 18, 2009 at 8:41 PM

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Bad-luck bank robber sentenced to 14 years in prison

Posted by John de Leon

James R. Knox, who staged one of the more memorably inept getaways after robbing a Gig Harbor bank on Oct. 30, was sentenced earlier today to 14 years in prison and three years of supervised release. During Knox's sentencing in U.S. District Court, Judge Benjamin H. Settle told him: "The public needs to be protected from you. When you are out of custody, you're a danger."

Not to mention a danger to himself.

When Knox walked into the Kitsap Bank branch on Oct. 30. He wore a mask, hooded sweatshirt, a bicycle helmet and carried a backpack. Knox yelled that he was robbing the bank and and rushed around the counter, confronting a pregnant teller. Knox demanded money and put his hand in his pocket and gestured as though he had a gun. He did the same thing to a second teller before fleeing with $12,000.

His getaway vehicle? A bicycle, which explains the helmet. He rode the bike to a car he had stashed nearby.

Knox wasn't aware that a GPS transmitter had been slipped in with the money. Cops quickly tracked down his car and chased him at speeds up to 105 mph before he ditched the car near the junction of I-5 and the Puyallup River. He ran off, but not without the tracking device. By the time he was found hiding in some bushes, Knox was being watched by a state Department of Transportation camera and a KIRO-TV news helicopter, which filmed the whole thing.

Knox had committed two other bank robberies in 1988 and three more in 1999. Knox had been out of custody on the 1999 convictions only 10 days when he robbed the Gig Harbor bank. Knox had previously robbed the same bank in 1999.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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