Cranston Police arrest suspect wanted in Providence and Cranston bank robberies
PROVIDENCE, RI- The previously convicted bank robber, who has been dubbed by some as the "pony tail bandit", was arrested by the Cranston Police last night shortly after robbing the Citizen's Bank in Garfield Plaza, bringing to a close a one week robbery spree in the cities of Cranston and Providence.
The suspect who is identified as 35 year old Vaughn Watrous of Providence was arrested along with his lookout and accomplice, 40 year old Sao Te of West Warwick. Just after 7:30 last night, officers received a broadcast that a white male, wearing a white sweatshirt with a hood over an orange cap had just robbed the in store branch of Citizens Bank in the Stop and Shop on Garfield Avenue.
Prior to this incident it was believed Watrous and Te had also attempted to rob Compare Foods located at 863 Broad Street at 5:15pm. In this attempt, Watrous passed the clerk a note demanding money and when the clerk hesitated Watrous became frightened and grabbed the note and fled. Further investigation by detectives led to Watrous later being identified by the clerk.
One of the clerks inside the bank at the time of the incident described the behavior of Watrous just prior to the robbery. He stated that Vaughn Watrous was standing in line, continuously looking down at his cell phone. When he was finally called to the window as the next customer, he handed the teller a note demanding money.
After taking the cash, Watrous was seen walking very quickly toward the exit. Both uniformed and plain clothes officers quickly responded to the plaza and began to search for Watrous. During the course of the investigation, information was received that Vaughn Watrous and Sao Te might still be in the plaza; therefore officers split up and began to conduct a store to store search, reviewing surveillance videos along the way.
After a short time, officers spotted an individual matching the description of Vaughn Watrous walking out of the TJ MAXX to get into a vehicle parked out front. Officers quickly boxed this vehicle in and ordered Watrous and Te out of the vehicle. The men refused to exit the vehicle as ordered, so they were pulled from the passenger compartment and when Watrous was taken into custody, a wad of cash in various denominations fell from his lap onto the ground.
The Cranston Police had been working closely with the Providence Police, who were also looking for Watrous in connection with at least three bank robberies in their city. In all five robberies, Watrous passed notes that were written on deposit envelopes.
Both men were charged with second degree robbery and felony conspiracy to commit robbery for last night's Citizen's Bank robbery and Vaughn faces the additional charge of robbing the Sovereign Bank on Wednesday in Cranston. Both men will be arraigned this afternoon in Kent County District Court.
Prior to the Cranston Sovereign bank robbery the RI Department of Corrections had provided information to the Providence Police tentatively identifying Watrous to three robberies in the City of Providence in the month of February. These robberies occurred on February 6 at Citizens Bank, 63 Westminster Street; February 11 at Sovereign Bank, 551 North Main Street; and February 12 at Sovereign Bank, 280 Atwells Avenue. At each location Watrous presented a note to the teller stating: "This is a robbery, no alarms, all big bills" and then fled on foot.
This investigation has led to the Providence Police Department charging Watrous with 3 counts of second degree robbery and 1 count assault with intent to rob.
"Through the collective and comprehensive investigative efforts and information sharing between the Cranston and Providence Police Departments, both communities can rest secure in the knowledge that this dangerous felon has been brought to justice" (Colonel Marco Palombo, Jr., Chief of Cranston Police)
"This arrest is a result of great inter-agency communication involving crimes that cross city lines. Cranston Police Detectives have been attending the Providence Police weekly robbery meetings for several years and the relationship and shared information are of great value to both police agencies," said Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.