Friday, April 25, 2008

Boom, Hiya Inky

Doesn't everyone know that there are explosive dye packs mixed in with the stolen money?

A woman in McAllen, Texas, accused of robbing two banks this month gave investigators the break that they needed to identify her on April 14, when she passed a threatening note to a teller with her name and address on the back.

Investigators believe that the woman, identified as 33-year-old Maria Garcia, scrawled the holdup message on the back of a completed food-stamp application just moments before entering the Capital One Bank branch in the downtown section of the city and absconding with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Cops arrested her less than two hours later by tracking her to the address on the form. They also linked her to a similar robbery earlier this month at another Capital One Bank in Mission.
As of this writing, police have not released the contents of the note that Garcia used to hold up the McAllen bank on April 14. But they did say that she entered the location, near the intersection of South Main Street and Erie Avenue, just before 10:00 AM without a weapon.

Once the tellers handed over the cash, Garcia stepped outside but didn’t get far before a dye pack embedded in the money exploded, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said.
Banks often package large amounts of cash with the stain-making devices as a security measure. Evidence of the exploded pack remained on the bank’s outside wall hours after the robbery.
“That stain’s going to be with her for a long time,” Rodriguez said. “That ink is pretty powerful.”

The circumstances of the April 14 robbery are similar to the April 1 hold-up in Mission of which Garcia is also accused. In that case, the robber entered the Capital One on South Shary Road, gave the teller a note and fled before the cops showed up at the scene.

Within a week of that robbery, investigators had tracked the suspect to the San Juan home but were still conducting surveillance on the house at the time of the April 14 robbery, Mission police Chief Leo Longoria said.

“Our detectives came over after hearing about the bank robbery in McAllen and sat on the house,” he said.

They arrived to discover Garcia and a suspected accomplice, identified as 32-year-old Ricardo Cavazos, trying to take the license plates off a green Ford Expedition that police identified as the getaway vehicle.

A search of the SUV yielded ink-stained clothing and money believed to have been taken from the McAllen bank, Longoria said. The money from the Mission robbery had not been recovered as of this writing.

Officers from Mission, McAllen, and San Juan surrounded the home for several hours as family members hovered behind police lines looking alternately concerned and confused.

It wasn’t the first time authorities had responded to the house near the intersection of Business 83 and Standard Avenue, according to San Juan police investigator Rolando Garcia — no relation to the accused bank robber.

Police had been called to the residence for child custody disputes and Maria Garcia’s mother had filed a report with the department identifying her daughter as mentally challenged.

As of the evening of April 14, both Maria Garcia and Cavazos remained in the Mission city jail pending an arraignment hearing that was scheduled for April 15.

Both were set to face charges of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony punishable in the state of Texas by up to life imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

After being processed in Mission, they were expected to face charges in McAllen in connection with the April 14 robbery.