Bank robbery suspect caught in Grants Pass

It took Grants Pass police about an hour to make an arrest following a robbery Thursday afternoon at Bank of the Cascades, 1304 N.W. Sixth St.

The arrest was made easier with the help of a Bank of the Cascades photograph of the suspect, Merlin resident Renee A. Brewer, 44. Two years ago, Brewer was arreted for sticking up a nearby Umpqua Bank.

Detective Sgt. Dennis Ward said investigators identified Brewer as the suspect in Thursday's robbery "as soon as we saw the photo" provided by Bank of the Cascades.

The photo of Thursday's robber showed a woman in sunglasses and a striped shirt, with her hair pulled back. She was walking through the bank's lobby, purse at her side.

The robbery was reported at about 1 p.m.

Ward said Brewer gave a demand note to a teller. "When the teller paused, the suspect pulled out a pocket knife and held it in front of her," he said, in a news release.

The teller then handed $300 to the woman, who left and drove off in a large white car.

While detectives were on their way to Brewer's home, 388 Gibson St., they were notified that a Josephine County Sheriff's Office deputy had seen a woman stop her large white vehicle at the sheriff's substation in Merlin and drop something into a garbage can outside.

A check of the can turned up a purse and knife police believed was used in the robbery, and a multi-colored shirt police believe Brewer wore in the holdup.

Detectives, a deputy and an FBI agent arrested Brewer at her home without incident, Ward said.

"All of the stolen money was recovered," he said.

Brewer was interviewed and jailed, on charges of first-degree robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing.

In August 2009, Brewer gave a demand note to a teller at the Umpqua Bank, but left without money. In that incident, a clear, close-up picture of her at the teller window was published, and a tip led to her arrest the next day.

In the 2009 case, Brewer pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted first-degree theft and was sentenced to 10 days in custody, 18 months probation and a mental health evaluation.

Anyone with information on Thursday's robbery is asked to call police at 541-474-6370.

Daily Courier reporter Shaun Hall can be reached at 541-474-3813 or

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