Facebook comments turn into leads in Edwards bank robbery case | AspenTimes.com

Facebook comments turn into leads in Edwards bank robbery case

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Photo from the bank security footage showing Karen Hyatt.
Courtesy Eagle County Sheriff Office

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Department has received hundreds of comments related to the May 1 bank robbery at Wells Fargo in Edwards and is now sifting through them for leads.

The suspect used the most common technique in American bank robberies these days: passing a note to the teller. If the note implies that the person has a weapon, then the crime is considered an armed robbery.

After the suspect — a white female in her mid-30s — made off with an undisclosed sum of money, the sheriff’s department posted pictures and a description online, writing “There may be multiple suspects in this incident. More information will be provided as information is received.”

No more information has been made public about additional suspects at this time, but on Thursday, Detective Aaron Veldheer said the department has been working through all sorts of leads, many stemming from comments made on social media about the bank robbery.

“We’re clearing one innocent person at a time,” Veldheer said.

Not uncommon

In 2019, leads for crimes are often generated from social media posts.

While often times an abundance of information from sites such as Facebook and Twitter can put an extra burden on detectives working the case, those same sites have aided in old-fashioned police work and have helped solve crimes, including bank robberies, in recent years.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Department’s May 1 post drew comments that were overt leads, including “Looks like a woman that works or has been to the Gypsum Creek Golf Course — I recommend inquiring with the manager there,” and “We’ve had a lady hanging at hwy 6 store for past week, she didn’t come this morning.”

One person even claimed to know the robber, writing “I go to class with her.”


In another exchange, a person claiming to be the bank teller said the note technique was indeed used in the robbery.

“I hope no one is ever in that position,” the person wrote.


Note job

Many people commenting pointed out that the images of the suspect weren’t very clear.

One person said it appeared that the suspect is wearing a “Lake Placid” hooded sweatshirt.

Others pointed out the passive nature of using a note to commit an armed robbery. It’s a topic explored in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services 2007 paper “Bank Robbery,” by Deborah Lamm Weisel.

During a robbery, writes Weisel, most banks — consistent with police advice — direct employees to comply quickly with robbers’ demands.

“Tellers willingly empty their cash drawers when presented with a simple robbery demand note, whether or not violence is threatened or a weapon is displayed,” writes Weisel. “The bank’s primary objective is to protect the safety and security of its employees and customers by reducing
the likelihood of violence … Robbers often wait in the teller’s line with legitimate customers and pass a demand note to the teller. In many robberies, the event is handled so discreetly that other customers and even other employees are not even aware that a crime has occurred until after the robber has left the premises.”

— Vail Daily staff writer Randy Wyrick contributed to this report.


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