Police Use Satellite Positioning to Find Bank's Stolen Cash

Banks turning to GPS devices for arrest and recovery after bank robberies


Bank staff tucked a global positioning satellite device into a bag of cash as they handed it over to a robber. Police tracked the device, quickly recovered the cash and arrested the alleged robber.

"You guys are good!" Thomas R. Fricks, 38, said as Spokane Police Officer Tim Moses arrested him shortly after the Washington Trust Bank branch robbery, according to documents filed in federal court.

Fricks, 38, was ordered held without bond Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrognio. A Monday detention hearing was scheduled on a federal bank robbery charge.

Fricks told FBI agents he robbed the bank Wednesday because "of his inability to keep a steady job and his need to provide for his family," according to court documents.

During the robbery, a masked armed man herded three employees into the bank vault and threatened to kill their families if they didn't cooperate, the documents say.

A teller who was on the phone with her husband told him the bank was being robbed and to call police.

The robber threw a black duffel bag to another bank employee and said he wanted US$40,000 (euro33,000) "and no bait bills," according to the court documents.

The employee complied, stuffing in more than US$37,920 (euro31,350) in cash - and the GPS device.

"The electronic tracking device, which had been included with the money, did function," allowing police to track the location of the fleeing getaway vehicle, the documents said.

Police recovered a black duffel bag containing a loaded BB gun and the missing cash from the minivan Fricks was driving.


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