WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – If the story about a pair of trash-talking, teller-kicking and increasingly brash bank robbers who pulled off the largest single bank heist in Colorado history isn’t unordinary enough, consider this bizarre development:
$500,000 of the $1.5 million taken in two scores was returned. To the FBI. Right through its front doors. And the attorney carrying the cash said he didn’t even know what was in the bag he was holding.
“Nobody I’ve ever seen in my 27 years (of experience) gives back bank robbery money of their own free will,” FBI special agent in charge Thomas Ravenelle told CBS4.
So it’s unlikely the duo is playing a cat-and-mouse game of misdirection.
“None of us believe that the bank robbers returned that money,” Ravenelle said. “I think very likely what happened is that they stored that somewhere and possibly a family member found it and thought, ‘Oh my God, I need to bring this to the authorities so it can get back to the rightful owners.’ ”
He told CBS4 it’s likely the attorney, whose name is Mike Pellow, is representing the robbers, family or friends of the robbers or even another attorney who represents the robbers. Pellow didn’t return CBS4’s calls for comment.
“He’s protecting his client,” Ravenelle said.
The thieves hit two Wells Fargo branches in Wheat Ridge, the latest on June 17 at 6000 W. 44th Avenue. They wore face coverings, brandished handguns and were verbally abusive to the bank’s employees, thus earning the “Trash Talking Bandits” moniker. One robber kicked a teller, Ravenelle said, ostensibly to get his point across.
Tuesday’s theft netted $500,000. January’s pilferage amount to nearly $1 million. In both robberies, the thieves accessed the banks’ vaults and fled in less than two minutes. They set their stolen getaway cars afire to destroy evidence.
Ravenelle said he worries the robberies won’t stop and that they’ll become increasingly violent.
“Somebody’s going to get hurt,” he said. “If not the next time, it’s going to be the time after that. It could very be the robbers themselves, it could be some 5-year-old at a bank, or it could be police officers who happen upon the scene as these robbers are leaving a bank.
“There’s somebody out there that knows who’s doing this. That’s a good person that turned in that money last time. We’re asking that person to come forward.”
The FBI describes the suspects as white or Hispanic, between 18 and 30 years old, with medium build. One is slightly taller than the other, the shorter one is between 5 foot 3 and 5 foot 6, the other between 5 foot 7 and 5 foot 9. Ravenelle said it’s possible they are a different pair, but the similarities between robberies indicate they’re connected.
“They’re learning,” Ravenelle said. “They’re getting better than they were the first time. It’s important we catch them before it gets out of hand. We need a break, and we’re looking for the public’s help.”
There is a reward for up to $50,000 from Wells Fargo. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $2,000. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 or FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171.
– Written by Tim Skillern for CBSDenver.com