The South Lake Tahoe Raley's was closed for about three hours Monday after a man robbed the Wells Fargo branch inside the store, claiming he had a bomb inside a box, authorities said.
The Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad arrived at the store and, using a robot, destroyed the box, which was determined to be a convincing fake.
The robber remains at large. The man handed a teller a note with the box and fled the store with an undetermined amount of cash during the incident, which took place at about 3:10 p.m., South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Martin Hale said.
The robbery occurred on one of the supermarket's busiest days of the year. The shopping center's parking lot was filled to capacity Monday afternoon, with many customers parking in unauthorized areas. And as many as 65,000 people were expected to gather Monday night in the Stateline casino corridor to ring in the new year.
The Raley's incident was not expected to have an effect on the New Year's celebration at Stateline.
"It hasn't affected anything at Stateline (on Monday night)," Hale said.
At least 15 Raley's employees were evacuated from the building along with customers after the robbery. Customers and other passers-by roamed the parking lot, some asking what was going on and wondering if the store was open. Many were holding camera phones.
Raley's customer Sollie Boggs arrived at the store to pick up a prescription, and found the building closed and cordoned off with law enforcement everywhere.
"I'm angry, because it's New Year's Eve and they would be closing early anyway," she said. "I don't know how long it will take to open."
Authorities swarmed the scene, including those from the California Highway Patrol, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department and the FBI.
The Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad arrived and deployed a robot inside the store. The parking lot was closed for at least an hour while the robot was inside. It reopened around 5:45 p.m.
The robber was described as 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 7 inches tall, with blond hair and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call South Lake Tahoe police at (530) 542-6100.