Top

news

Stories

 

"They were pretty brazen," says Maloney, noting that he was hesitant to put a $30-an-hour security guard in every branch, both because of the cost and because it could potentially escalate the violence. Still, he says, "It isn't unusual for our banks to place armed guards in branches that didn't have them before. They could have walked into a scenario like that." It was as if they were seeing just how far they could go without getting caught, rubbing their audacity into their pursuers' faces.

Maloney wouldn't stand for it. A retired Englewood police sergeant, he knew how to work an investigation. He pored over security videos, frame by frame. But it was tough — with such comprehensive disguises, it was unlikely anyone would recognize the Snowboard Bandits from the robbery stills dispersed to news outlets, one of the most common methods of catching robbers. And they were frustratingly diligent, never leaving behind a telltale fingerprint or getting into a situation where they'd spill their DNA-rich blood. So Maloney's best hope was to get into his targets' heads, figure out where they would rob next — and make sure law enforcement would be waiting for them.

The strategy had worked before. To take down an evasive serial robber called the Jammin' Bandit — so named because he'd jam open bank doors with a rock so he wouldn't risk being locked inside — Safe Streets' pattern guy, Nagengast, had studied the locations of the Jammin' Bandit's robberies and coordinated a two-week surveillance operation, involving dozens of police officers, focused on banks he believed were potential targets. Sure enough, the robber showed up at one of the banks and was apprehended — in the last hour of the last day of the sting.

Special Agent Phil Niedringhaus (above) runs an FBI task force that cracks bank robbery cases like the ones involving the Snowboard Bandits (right).
Special Agent Phil Niedringhaus (above) runs an FBI task force that cracks bank robbery cases like the ones involving the Snowboard Bandits (right).
Michael Jason Martinez (above) was addicted to snowboarding — and bank robberies; TCF security chief John Maloney (right) helped catch Martinez and Edgar Adrian Perez.
Michael Jason Martinez (above) was addicted to snowboarding — and bank robberies; TCF security chief John Maloney (right) helped catch Martinez and Edgar Adrian Perez.

So Maloney, working with the Safe Streets team, began scrutinizing maps of the Front Range, pondering the locations of the Snowboard Bandit heists. Eventually, they spotted a pattern. "I saw that they had a propensity for the northwest corner of the metro area, like Jefferson County," says Maloney. "The branches were near large thoroughfares that they could use for escape routes." So he stepped up surveillance in that area, placing additional — and expensive — security measures in TCF banks that fit the mold.

His gamble paid off.

Maloney, Wright and their colleagues don't like to talk about the specifics of the tracking device they placed in the TCF Bank at 6428 Gardenia Street in Arvada, or how the device made it into the Snowboard Bandits' bag when they hit the branch the evening of January 23. After all, in the poker game between cops and robbers, there are some cards each side likes to play close to its chest. All they'll say is that it worked.

Five minutes after the Snowboard Bandits fled the bank with their haul, the tracking device led Arvada police to a nearby church parking lot, where they cornered a silver Saturn sedan. Inside they found two men, Michael Jason Martinez and Edgar Adrian Perez, along with a bag of money in the back seat oozing the crimson remains of a detonated dye pack. Perez swore the two had just stolen the vehicle from a 7-Eleven and didn't know about the money in the back, according to the court record. But that story didn't fit with the fact that Martinez had dye stains on his pants — or that the car turned out to belong to Perez's half-brother.

As Martinez and Perez were taken into custody, Maloney relished the news. "Yeah, we finally got the guys," he remembers thinking. "You feel good for all your tellers, all your bank staff. It's just very gratifying to get guys like this and put them behind bars." The case was closed on the Snowboard Bandits — or so it seemed.

On January 30, a lone individual walked into a TCF branch on Federal Boulevard in Westminster and held it up. Martinez and Perez were behind bars, but there was no mistaking this man's choice of clothing: He was covered head to toe in snowboard gear.


The 23-story Glass House condominium building rises at the edge of downtown like a crystal beacon of extravagance. Its 10,000 floor-to-ceiling windowpanes sheath some of the most glamorous residences in the city. Residents here are used to martini-drenched cocktail parties, doorman chitchats, and run-ins with Colorado Rockies star and resident Troy Tulowitzki, but certainly not police raids like the one agent Wright was part of at the building last February, looking for the man he believed to be the third Snowboard Bandit.

Wright learned about Ikxander Figueroa-Maldonado during post-arrest interviews with Martinez and Perez. He was a real badass, they said, and told Wright a story about how Figueroa-Maldonado had recently made off with a cop car. Sure enough, Wright learned that in November, an unidentified man running from Littleton police had doubled back and taken off in one of the idling patrol vehicles. The car was found with no sign of its thief — but the man matched Figueroa-Maldonado's physical description.

Figueroa-Maldonado, fresh out of jail from a previous robbery, was apparently living large at the Glass House, paying his lease in cash and telling neighbors he was an investment banker. But when Wright and his fellow officers came calling last February, Figueroa-Maldonado's posh apartment was empty.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...