Specialty vehicle plates give robbery suspect away

EVERETT — Technology, an observant bank employee and old fashioned shoe leather led Arlington police to arrest a bank robbery suspect whose getaway car had specialty military plates.

The suspect was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Friday evening, less than eight hours after the Smokey Point branch of Whidbey Island Bank was robbed. That morning a man wearing a white baseball cap and silver-framed glasses handed a bank teller a note written with a black Sharpie-style pen that read: “Give me $4,000. I have a gun.”

The suspect, a Marysville man, 31, also is under investigation for a robbery at the US Bank at Smokey Point on Aug. 19.

Based on a description of the man and his clothing, police asked security staff at the neighboring Walmart if they might have video surveillance of the suspect in their parking lot.

They were able to provide footage of the man parking a 2007 Nissan X-Terra in a stall on the south side of the bank at 10:07 a.m., according to court papers. Video also showed a man matching the robber’s description running from the bank and hopping into the car at 10:09 a.m.

An employee at the Whidbey Island bank told police he noticed the SUV had backed into a space and was “far away” from the curb, police wrote in an affidavit filed in Everett District Court. He also noticed that there was a red color on the license plate, leading police to believe it might be military plate.

A detective was able to combine several bits of information that had been gathered, including the year, color and make of the vehicle and various U.S. armed forces “specialty” license plates from Washington state. The registered owner of a vehicle and license matching that description is a relative of the suspect, according to court papers.

A clear image of the suspect taken from the bank’s video surveillance footage also was a key factor in the investigation.

Police were able to get a digital photo from state Department of Licensing of the suspect to compare with the image of the Whidbey Island bank photo suspect.

A teller from US Bank also picked him out from several photos she was shown.

A judge set bail at $50,000 on Tuesday.

The suspect has a first-degree robbery conviction, according to court papers.

In August 1999, he wore a hat and bandana and was armed with a handgun when he stole several hundred dollars from a Warm Beach grocery store.

He was recognized despite his disguise.

He also was charged and convicted of malicious mischief after causing extensive damage to a patrol car after his robbery arrest, according to court papers.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crimes.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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