BEAVERTON, Ore. – Two community college students who used to joke about robbing a bank were spared prison yesterday and sentenced to five years of probation for robbing Rivermark Community CU last December.

Brittney Sykes, 24, who studied nursing at Mt. Hood Community College, previously pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery, and Emma Westhusing, 21, an academic scholar at Linfield College, pleaded guilty to two counts.

The judge, impressed by the contrition of the two, sentenced them to five years of probation, 200 hours of community service, no contact with one another, no alcohol and continued mental health counseling.

Last Dec. 6, just before 5 p.m., Sykes and Westhusing drove to the credit union branch and parked in front of a nearby business. While Westhusing waited in the car, Sykes, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, approached a teller with a note saying, “Don’t be stupid, just answer the questions,” according to court records.

The teller understood she was being held up, gathering money from her drawer while Sykes made small talk: “Are you ready for Christmas?” “Do you have any plans?” she said, according to the records.

The teller, however, had tripped a silent alarm and planted an electronic tracking device amid the $1,370 in cash, allowing the two suspects to be followed by Portland police. They tracked the two to Sykes’ home and found $1,370 in cash on Sykes’ bed and the tracking device tucked under the driver-side floor mat of the purple Hyundai Accent they drove, according to court documents.

The two told police the robbery originated as a lark over their financial problems. The two started joking about robbing a bank, according to records, eventually the joke ended and they decided to make it real.

A grand jury indictment dated Dec. 15 charged Sykes and Westhusing with an earlier credit union robbery, carried out in almost exactly the same manner. According to court documents, Sykes and Westhusing drove to another Rivermark Community branch in Gresham on Oct. 18. In that robbery they made off with 1,380 – coincidentally just $10 more than on Dec. 6. The case remained unsolved until investigators noticed a resemblance on surveillance tapes.

 

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