By ALAN J. KEAYS Herald Staff Clues are scarce and the clock is ticking on the statute of limitations as investigators try to find the lone gunman who committed the biggest robbery in Vermont history. The bandit who stole nearly $2 million from Berkshire Armored Car Co. in Rutland remains on the run, marking his second anniversary today of the record heist. "We have no active leads at this time," Steve Hardegree, an FBI agent in Rutland, said this week. "We had a few leads this summer we exhausted." He said he hoped that publicity given to the crime on its second anniversary would lead to more phone calls and tips. Hardegree said his office has also recently sent notices to FBI bureaus throughout the Northeast seeking information about the robbery, trying to tap into any sources they might have. He said sometimes stalled investigations pick up steam when a crime involves more than one person and the group has a falling out - which can lead to one of them talking. The federal statute of limitations for the crime is five years, according to First Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kirby. However, the federal prosecutor said he doubted very much that _the person who committed the crime would start celebrating and publicly admit a role in the robbery after the five-year time frame expires. "It probably wouldn't be wise," Kirby said. That's because, even if the bandit cannot be charged directly with the robbery after five years, other charges could be filed depending on the circumstances, he said. For example, if the robber didn't claim the stolen money on his income tax filing he could face a federal charge for tax invasion. The statute of limitations for that charge could start anew each April 15. The robbery shocked many in Rutland who were surprised to learn Berkshire kept so much money in the company's building at Howe Center. The biggest previous heist in Vermont is believed to be a 1996 bank robbery in St. Albans that netted $250,000. Details of the Rutland robbery have been posted on the FBI Web site under the heading, "Seeking Information." It was cold and snowy around 5:45 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2002, when the robber tied up and handcuffed two guards who had just arrived for work at the armored car company's building. The robber, who spoke with a New York accent, took $1.9 million in cash from the vault and fled. Investigators spent the day scouring Howe Center, the sprawling industrial complex on the outskirts of downtown Rutland where Berkshire rents a building. The company's space at Howe Center includes a one-bay garage, office and bathroom. The vault was anchored in concrete when the floor was poured. The suspect is described as a white man, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 to 175 pounds. He was a wearing a dark, bulky jacket. He is believed to have fled Berkshire's in a dark van, possibly with a light stripe on the side. Immediately after the robbery, investigators conducted scores of interviews and followed up on hundreds of leads. Current and former Berkshire employees were interrogated and many other Howe Center workers were also questioned. Police knocked on doors of homes and businesses around Howe Center, looking clues. Investigators returned a week later to try to recreate the crime and make sure the stories of the people they interviewed matched up with the scene. Officials at the Berkshire office in Rutland referred questions about the robbery to the company's headquarters in Pittsfield, Mass. No one could be reached this week for comment. Anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robber stands to gain a $70,000 reward, which includes $20,000 put up by the FBI and $50,000 by Berkshire. Contact Alan J. Keays at alan.keays@rutlandherald.com.

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