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Police Link Suspect to Claremont, Lebanon Bank Robberies

James Oberfeldt in a January 2013 police 
photograph. 
Courtesy Claremont Police

James Oberfeldt in a January 2013 police photograph. Courtesy Claremont Police

Claremont — Police have identified a 30-year-old suspect they believe carried out two armed bank robberies in Claremont and one in Lebanon this fall.

James M. Oberfeldt, of Claremont, was arrested Saturday by Massachusetts State Police in Holyoke, Mass., on drug charges, Claremont Police Chief Alex Scott said in a news release Wednesday.

The release said that Oberfeldt, 30, has a warrant for a probation violation in Sullivan County and is “expected to be formally charged with the bank robberies in the near future.”

Scott said Oberfeldt is being held on cash bail pending the outcome of the drug charges in Massachusetts and $5,000 cash bail on the probation violation from Sullivan County.

Asked about what led police to believe that Oberfeldt is responsible for the robberies, Scott said he could not comment on any of the evidence or the investigation at this time. He said he is unsure when police could expect Oberfeldt back in New Hampshire to face the bank robbery charges.

The release said Massachusetts police contacted the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department because of the outstanding warrant and the sheriff then contacted Claremont police. Details of the arrest were not made available, but Scott said through the cooperative efforts of police in Massachusetts and Claremont they were “able to positively identify Oberfeldt as the bank robbery suspect.”

Scott also said in the release that the robber did not brandish a “real firearm” but instead used a Daisy Air-soft BB gun that was made to look like a Beretta 9MM handgun.

The first robbery occurred on Oct. 11 when One Credit Union on Charlestown Road was robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash by a man who was wearing a black ski mask and carried a weapon. He was believed to have fled on foot into a nearby neighborhood but a search of the area, which included a K-9 unit, turned up nothing.

On Oct 20, the Hanover Street branch of Lake Sunapee Savings Bank in Lebanon was robbed around noon in a similar fashion. The suspect wore a black mask and brandished a handgun, demanding money from the teller. He fled on foot, and police believe he may have gotten into a car and headed to nearby Interstate 89.

The most recent robbery, on Nov. 26, was at Claremont Savings Bank on Maple Avenue when a suspect wearing a black ski mask and reportedly carrying a firearm entered the bank around 10:45 a.m. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and escaped in a vehicle that was in the parking lot of Moody Park, a short distance away.

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway credited police with the arrest and said the replica gun was in “law enforcement custody.” He said an armed robbery charge could still be brought even if the weapon was not an actual firearm.

A warrant for Oberfeldt’s probation violation was issued Oct. 21. He was on probation following a conviction on March 4, 2013, for sale of heroin in Newport in November 2012.

Last summer, a Valley News photographer encountered Oberfeldt on Washington Street in Claremont where he said he was looking for a job as a machinist.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.