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Bank robbers use rope made of cloth scraps to escape Chicago jail

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CHICAGO - A pair of convicted bank robbers escaped from a Chicago jail Tuesday by taking out the bars of a window and climbing down a rope made from scraps of cloth.

Central District Police Sgt. Michael Lazzaro said the men likely escaped the Metropolitan Correctional Center between 5 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.

The FBI identified the men as 37-year-old Jose Banks and 38-year-old Kenneth Conley, who were believed to be traveling togethe. They were reportedly last seen Tuesday morning in the Tinley Park area. Federal arrest warrants were issued Tuesday evening.

Police surrounded a home in Tinley Park just before noon looking for the men.

Banks -- known as the "Second Hand Bandit" -- was convicted last week of stealing more than $600,000 during armed robberies. His cellmate, Conley, was convicted of stealing $4,000 last year from a bank in Homewood, Ill.

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Lazzaro said the men escaped out a window using what one officer described as a rope made out of fabric scraps.

The rope was seen still hanging down the side of the building Tuesday before being pulled up just before noon.

According to the complaint affidavit, Banks and Conley were cellmates and were present during a physical head count at 10 p.m. Monday.

Fake window bars
Following their escape, investigators said they found metal window bars tucked inside the inmates' mattresses, fake metal bars inside the cell and clothing in the shape of a body under the bed's blankets.


FBI officials said Banks and Conley should be considered armed and dangerous. Chicago police and U.S. Marshals searched several locations, including a Greyhound bus station, but came up empty.

Prisoner escapes, found in N.J. hospital vent less than an hour later

The Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal detention center in Chicago's Loop operated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, has been the site of escape attempts before.

The brother of "Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan pleaded guilty in 2010 for trying to escape the jail using a rope made of bed sheets. Matthew Nolan planned to rappel down the side of the building using a 31-foot rope of bed sheets hidden in a mattress.

Fugitive who escaped from prison more than 31 years ago finally caught

In 1985, two men escaped by shimmying down a 75-foot extension cord they threw out the window.

Escape carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, authorities explained in a statement.