Serial bank robbery suspect arrested
A distinctive sweatshirt may have saved a Sovereign Bank branch in Cheltenham from being held up for a third time July 22.
When the Sovereign Bank at 300 Central Avenue was held up for a second time June 13 — the first holdup occurred May 28 — the robber was wearing a blue and white striped, hooded sweatshirt. The robber was believed responsible for the armed robbery of six banks in the Philadelphia region from mid-May to mid-July this year, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
A Cheltenham police officer working a task force bank detail at 9 a.m. Monday observed a Ford Taurus circling the Sovereign Bank in Cheltenham and noticed that the operator of the vehicle was wearing a blue and white striped, hooded sweatshirt, according to police.
Demetrious Washington, 26, of Philadelphia, who was driving the vehicle, matched the description of the serial bank robber and was pulled over and taken into custody. He later confessed to his involvement in a number of the robberies, according to the press release from the DA’s office.
Washington is believed responsible for the two bank robberies in Cheltenham; the PNC Bank at 6855 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, on May 15; the Wells Fargo Bank at 6611 Castor Ave., Philadelphia, on May 23; the Wells Fargo Bank at 2650 Huntingdon Pike, Lower Moreland, on June 19; and the Wells Fargo Bank at 620 Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge, on July 10.
In each robbery, the suspect was described as being either a black or Hispanic male, 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a thin build, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a scarf covering his face. The suspect was also armed with what appeared to be a silver revolver, the release said.
Police officers from the municipalities in which the holdups occurred, along with officers
from Abington and Upper Southampton townships, created a task force to conduct surveillance at banks in their respective jurisdictions, the DA’s office said.
Monday that surveillance paid off.
Washington was charged with multiple counts of robbery, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and theft by deception. He was arraigned before District Judge Christopher Cerski and was taken to Montgomery County Prison in lieu of bail set at $1 million. A preliminary hearing is scheduled before Cerski Aug. 5.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jesse S. King.