A 37-year-old mother of two was arrested while trying to rob a Hialeah, Fla., bank on Wednesday, and police said the woman was wanted in a 10-bank robbery spree that netted at least $80,000 since April.
Walking into the same bank she first allegedly hit in April, Marta Rosa Prida was spotted by a teller who recognized police descriptions of the robber: A woman wearing a floppy hat and dark sun glasses and chatting on a cellphone, said Hialeah police spokesman Jose Caragol Sr.
The teller at Continental National Bank on West 49th Street was able to alert police that a robbery was in progress, and the woman was taken into custody as she left the building Wednesday.
Prida faced charges of bank robbery. Police couldn't say late Wednesday where she was being held.
Prida is suspected in the robberies of at least five banks or credit unions in Hialeah, two in Miami Lakes, two in Westchester and one in Kendall, according to Herald news partner WFOR-CBS television. Investigators believe Prida had worked at a bank at some point. While female serial bank robbers are unusual, Prida appeared to be a pro, Caragol said.
Prida allegedly handed bank tellers notes in which she threatened to kill people unless the tellers handed over money.
She would ask for the note back, so as not to leave behind her fingerprints.
''She knew what she was doing,'' Caragol said.
Prida would reach into her purse as though she had a gun inside, though she never displayed a weapon. She would then explicitly instruct the teller how to retrieve the money so as not to trigger an alarm, Caragol said.
''Apparently she was very familiar with the teller position and how they operate,'' Caragol said.
A neighbor said Prida lives at 10734 NW 88th Ave. in Hialeah Gardens with her husband and two children, a son in elementary school and a daughter in her late teens or early 20s.
''You see her as a mother, a wife, nothing unusual,'' said Rita Abreu, who lives across the street and frequently saw Prida taking her son to school in the morning.
Abreu said she had not noticed anything to suggest Prida had come into any money -- no conspicuous spending.
'She's just one of those people you say, `Hi' and 'Bye' to,'' she said. ``It's hard to imagine your neighbor robbing a bank.''