FBI: Suburban bank robber caught

March 18, 2010 4:32:27 AM PDT
The FBI says a bank robber known as The TCF Bandit has been captured.The suspect, identified as Harold C. Beck, was arrested Tuesday while allegedly trying to hold up a TCF bank in Elmhurst, Ill.

The FBI has released a copy of the criminal complaint and affadavit.

Federal investigators credit alert bank tellers with helping them arrest the suspect. They believe he has been robbing area banks since 2007.

The banks were primarily the kind located in grocery stores and authorities say Harold Beck likely had made a habit of robbing them, although he is only charged in Tuesday's robbery in Elmhurst - a heist in which investigators say he got over $3,200.

After passing over a note to the TCF teller in a Jewel-Osco that said, "have gun. No dye packs!!! All cash," the FBI says Beck walked out of the store, around the corner and drove away in his green van. It was a clean, simple plan that he had carried out before.

"He fit the description of the photo that was disseminated, he fit the description the teller gave and witnesses gave and he was indeed the person that robbed the bank yesterday," said Maureen Schutz, FBI.

But he was followed by a teller who witnessed the crime. Moments later Elmhurst police spotted Beck him 2 miles away on Roosevelt Road.

"We typically advise people not to something like that just because it is dangerous just but obviously witnesses and tellers, whoever in that moment, whatever they did at that time, their description was very helpful," said Schutz.

The FBI says Beck matches the TCF bandit captured on surveillance tape in as many as 13 similar heists including a TCF branch inside a Jewel-Osco 5 miles away in Franklin Park, a location robbed three times in the last three years. Shoppers never thought they were at risk.

"I don't think about being hurt at the grocery store, but I will think about it now," said Debbie Duda.

The FBI says people always need to be aware of their surroundings.

"We want them to be alert and aware and take note of those things. We do disseminate them because we do count on the public to be watchful," said Schutz.

TCF Bank referred calls to the FBI.

In a statement, Karen May, external communications manager of Jewel-Osco said: "Customer safety is a top priority...Fortunately no one has been injured in any of the TCF bank robberies. Jewel-Osco is cooperating with the police investigation and refers all calls to the authorities.

"To me, it is good and bad. I bank at TCF. I have three or four banks I bank at but it is good for me to run in and take care of some business," said Pastor Glenn Miller, TCF BANK customer in Elmhurst.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI won't say if and when more charges are expected against Beck.

On the one charge of bank robbery, the maximum penalty is 20 years behind bars.