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Police Digest

Posted 1/27/21

Police: Suspect in Santander heist had robbed banks before An arrest has been made in connection with the Jan. 21 robbery of the Santander Bank branch on Reservoir Avenue, Cranston Police announced Monday - and the suspect is a man previously convicted

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POLICE NEWS

Police Digest

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Police: Suspect in Santander heist had robbed banks before

An arrest has been made in connection with the Jan. 21 robbery of the Santander Bank branch on Reservoir Avenue, Cranston Police announced Monday – and the suspect is a man previously convicted of robbing the same bank in 2013.

Vaughn Watrous, 43, with a last known address on Broad Street in Providence, is charged with one count of second-degree robbery in connection with the Cranston incident. He was taken into custody early Sunday evening by Providence Police after a “brief struggle” and faces additional charges in Providence and North Providence “stemming from bank robberies” in those communities, according to police.

The Santander robbery occurred shortly before 2 p.m. on Jan. 21. Police say the suspect in that incident “entered the bank and passed the teller a note demanding money” before fleeing the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was hurt, police said.

Monday’s statement from Cranston Police reads: “Immediately following the robbery, Detectives began to work with bank security officials on identifying the suspect through video images of the crime. During the investigation, Detectives learned that a similar crime had taken place in North Providence approximately ½ hour earlier, with the suspect matching the bank robber's description in Cranston. It was also found that this individual may have committed additional bank robberies in the City of Providence.”

According to police, Watrous served a federal prison sentence after admitting to committing robberies at a number of local bank branches – including what was then the Sovereign Bank on Reservoir Avenue, as well as the Citizens Bank branch inside the Stop & Shop on Garfield Avenue – in February 2013. He had been released from prison in February 2020, police said.

In the statement, Chief of Police Col. Michael Winquist said: “The swift apprehension of this suspect is the direct result of three law enforcement agencies sharing information and working cooperatively to solve robberies in multiple jurisdictions. I commend all the officers and detectives from the various agencies who participated in this investigation. Their diligence resulted in an alleged repeat offender being taken off the street.”

Feds: Cranston man wanted in stolen vehicles scheme apprehended in Florida

A Cranston man who federal authorities described as the “alleged leader” of a series of alleged schemes to steal and sell nearly $700,000 worth of excavators, sport boats, jet skis, all-terrain vehicles and trailers in multiple states has been arrested in Winter Park, Florida, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Aaron Weisman.

Jose A. Montes, 36 – also known as Jose Rivera and “Turo” – was taken into custody without incident on Wednesday, authorities say. He had been indicted on charges of interstate transportation of stolen property and conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property in November 2020.

Weisman’s office says Montes was due to appear before a judge in Orlando pending his return to Rhode Island to face the charges.

According to a prior statement from prosecutors, the charges against Montes and the other alleged conspirators stem from an investigation initiated by Johnston and North Providence police in coordination with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. It was later merged with a “parallel investigation” on the part of Rhode Island State Police, Connecticut State Police and police departments in Easton, Massachusetts, and Hampstead, New Hampshire.

In the prior statement, prosecutors said the investigation found that “between November 2019 and July 2020, three Bobcat excavators, ten jet skis, four boats, eight all-terrain vehicles, and ten trailers valued at nearly $700,000 were stolen.”

The statement continues: “It is alleged that members of the conspiracy, often times using rented and stolen trucks, hauled away the stolen excavators, boats, jet skis, ATVs, and trailers from businesses in South Kingstown and Tiverton, RI; Auburn, Rehoboth, and Easton, MA; Waterford, Vernon, and Stafford, CT; and Hampstead, NH. Many of the stolen items were stored in Providence, Johnston, Warwick, North Providence, Scituate, and Glocester, R.I. Several of the stolen items were hauled to Florida to be sold.”

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