SCRANTON -- Three banks were forced to shut down Wednesday because of bomb threats.
Bank employees at three banks in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties had quite a scare. Someone called in identical bomb threats within about an hour of each other.
Police say each of those bomb threats was unfounded and no one was hurt during the scary hour-long ordeal in Scranton and in Avoca in Luzerne County. Scranton police believe all of the bomb threats were called in by the same person or people who were looking to rob the banks:.
The manager at the Wells Fargo Bank on Meadow Avenue in Scranton took the call that eventually caused all the commotion. The man on the other line told the manager there were bombs surrounding the bank and then followed up with a few instructions.
"That he was to put as much money in a bag and put the bag at the side door. And once he did that he would remove the explosives," said Scranton Police Capt. Glenn Thomas.
Capt. Thomas says the manager did not follow those directions and called police.
But the day got more complicated after that.
A call with identical instructions was made to the People's Security Bank less than a mile away on Cedar Avenue, then, about a half hour later, at the PNC Bank on Main Street in Avoca.
All three banks are in close proximity to the interstate, and in Wells Fargo's case, in close proximity to other bomb threats.
The Gerrity's supermarket next door had a bomb threat earlier this month.
Police say the perpetrators are difficult to catch because they use throwaway phones to avoid detection.
"So without having a phone number or something to check on right at that moment, it takes a lot of investigation to do."
The captain says it also occupies hours of first responders' time when the threats are called in. Now, officers will spend days trying to catch whoever made the call.
"They have to respond to everything, and the way things are going lately, we have crime watches in town here alone, the more people get involved maybe we'll be able to cut back on some of this nonsense," said Bill Kiesinger of Avoca.