MAYVILLE - Witnesses in the rural community of Clymer and the suspect's criminal past helped law enforcement officials solve a recent robbery.
On Tuesday, a Chautauqua County grand jury indicted Jenifer Gens, 35, of Mayville, with third-degree robbery in the April 17 holdup at the Southern Chautauqua County Federal Credit Union at 562 Clymer-Sherman Road.
But the charge may have never come about without the assistance of several bystanders.
"Because this crime happened in a rural area it's difficult to get there right away," said investigator Joseph Smith of the New York State Police. "Thankfully there were troopers who were already nearby so we started canvassing witnesses and looking at surveillance footage fairly quickly."
According to Smith, through the help of witnesses as well as surveillance video, state police had a good description of the subject that committed the robbery. At the time the robber was described as a woman in her late 20s, having a small build and wearing a hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, work boots and sunglasses.
"We did a lot of work talking to people in the neighborhood," said Smith. "Thanks to witnesses we had a good lead about where the suspect was. A teacher identified the subject near the school in Clymer around 4:30 p.m. the day of the robbery.
"We got another big break a few weeks later when some people came forward with more information. A big thing was getting it out to the media. In smaller communities like this one the media can have a big impact."
The state police worked to build a case to present to the district attorney's office. According to Smith, Gens has had other troubles with the law recently as well. For a time, she was on the Jamestown Police Department's most wanted list.
"When the information and tips are telling you that someone did it and then you see them on the most wanted list, you can tell that they're heading down a bad path," said Smith. "The time we put into the investigation was good for the DA, though. It all worked out well in the end."
David W. Foley, Chautauqua County district attorney, said third-degree robbery is a class D felony and carries a maximum sentence of 2 to seven years in prison. The indictment alleges Gens went into the bank and handed a teller a note demanding money and indicating she had a gun. Gens escaped on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.
The New York State Police and the Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office handled the investigation.
Gens was arraigned before Chautauqua County Court Judge John T. Ward, who set bail at $75,000 cash or $150,000 real property. A pre-motion conference is scheduled for Aug. 6.
Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is asked to contact their local law enforcement or state police.