Police make arrest in Fraser bank robbery
Officials believe the suspect is the same man who robbed a Frisco bank in January
Police believe they’ve caught the man responsible for robbing the Credit Union of the Rockies in Frisco in January in addition to a pair of bank robberies in Fraser.
Police officers arrested James W. Smith, 57, outside of Empire on Wednesday, June 2, after he allegedly robbed the United Business Bank in Fraser earlier that morning. Smith was booked on two counts of aggravated robbery.
At around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Grand County dispatch received several silent hold-up alarms from the United Business Bank, according to a release from the Fraser Winter Park Police Department. The suspect handed the teller a note demanding money, but no weapon was present. The teller complied, and the suspect fled the area on foot. However, police did obtain surveillance photos of the man and a vehicle they believed to be connected to the crime.
At about 12:10 p.m., a Grand County Sheriff’s deputy at the scene of a crash on Berthoud Pass spotted the vehicle heading eastbound on U.S. Highway 40. The driver closely matched the description of the suspect. The deputy trailed the car to an area just outside of Empire, where he stopped the driver with the help of law enforcement from Empire, Georgetown and Clear Creek County.
An investigation into the robbery is still underway, but both Fraser Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor and Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman voiced confidence that Smith was responsible not only for Wednesday’s robbery, but also a pair of additional robberies at the same bank in Fraser and the Credit Union of the Rockies in Frisco in January.
“I’m pretty confident,” Wickman said. “The FBI is still working on some stuff, but I think it’s him looking at the photos from the first robbery and the robbery (Wednesday) in Fraser. … I think he’s our guy.”
Wickman said he wasn’t surprised that someone would try to rob multiple banks in the same area or even the same bank twice.
“They won’t give up, especially if they’re successful,” Wickman said. “This is a prime example of going back to the same hunting ground and robbing the bank. One too many times at the well, as I like to say. But they did a great job of capturing this individual. … It’s just perseverance. We don’t get them right away but eventually we will.”
Smith has addresses in Winter Park and Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to the Fraser Winter Park Police Department. He was taken to the Grand County Jail, where he is being held pending a hearing.
“Obviously, we’re in the beginning stages of our investigation, but we’re very grateful for the teamwork that numerous law enforcement agencies performed in the apprehension of this guy, including agencies in Summit County who provided a lot of information when they had their bank robbery,” Trainor said.
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