UPDATE: Suspected bank robber caught, money still missingPublished 4:36pm Thursday, February 21, 2013
It took less than one week for Niles police to find and arrest a suspect allegedly responsible for robbing and threatening to blow up the Niles Chemical Bank on Main Street Feb. 15.
Richard David Smith, 44, was arrested without incident at his brother’s residence in the 100 block of Catalpa Street in Benton Harbor Wednesday.
Niles Police Detective Richard Krueger said, as of Thursday afternoon, police had not located all of the money taken during the bank robbery. He declined to say how much — if any — money was recovered or how much was stolen.
Smith was arraigned Thursday in St. Joseph on felony counts of bank robbery and armed robbery, both carrying possible life sentences. He is being held at the Berrien County Jail on $1 million cash surety bond.
Krueger said a combination of tips and hard work led to the arrest of Smith, who was developed as a suspect late Tuesday evening.
After robbing the bank — which is located on the corner of Main and Fifth streets — Smith traveled north on Fifth toward Sycamore Street. Krueger said he has a good idea of where Smith went from there. Numerous cameras are located outside of buildings in the downtown area.
Krueger said Smith left Niles shortly after the robbery, although Krueger didn’t say exactly how long Smith stayed in Niles. Smith then traveled back and forth between Benton Harbor and Niles at least one time — possibly more — after the robbery and before his arrest.
Krueger said Smith was visiting “friends and family” in Niles in the time between the robbery and his capture. Krueger said he doesn’t believe these friends and family had anything to do with the crime.
“We don’t have information of anyone assisting him at this point,” Krueger said.
According to early reports, the suspect, wearing a thick coat, glasses and hat, entered the bank around 11:30 a.m. through the Main Street entrance. The suspect presented the teller a note demanding money and threatening to blow up the bank if police were called.
The suspect left the bank with an unknown amount of cash and the note.
No one was injured, and bank employees were evacuated as police secured the immediate area a few minutes after the robbery.
The suspect left a bag in the bank near the Main Street entrance. The Berrien County Bomb squad was called to assist and identify the package. The bomb squad’s investigation, which included using a “bomb robot,” revealed the package was not a threat. It was removed from the scene.
Krueger would not say what was in the bag, but said that information would come out eventually.
Police initially thought the suspect might be a woman, although they never said they were certain it was a woman.