A tiny Global Positioning System device found in the money bag given to the three men who allegedly robbed the Wells Fargo Bank in Rockville Tuesday was key to their capture, Sheriff Darren M. Popkin said Thursday.
Police were able to follow the tracks of the robbers, who used a getaway car to make their way onto Interstate 270 after robbing the Wells Fargo Bank in King Farm about 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“There was a GPS indicator in the bag the teller handed the robbers,” Popkin said.
Police tracked the alleged robbers’ SUV to I-270, and a Prince George’s police helicopter team spotted the vehicle, spurring Maryland State Police to close down the highway from just south of Montrose Road to just north of the I-270-Interstate 495 split.
Police officers from various jurisdictions — including Rockville, Montgomery, state police and the sheriff’s office — walked the stretch of highway vehicle-by-vehicle.
Popkin said he was driving one of the cars snarled in the shutdown as he headed to a community meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning at Westfield Montgomery Mall.
Less than an hour after the robbery, police found the SUV between two dump trucks. A gun, black gloves and a bag of cash covered by a fleece jacket were recovered at the scene. Police said they also recovered money ditched into one of the trucks during the getaway.
Popkin said the GPS device is being used by some banks as a standard operating procedure. “We recommend it,” Popkin said.
Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks declined to comment on the GPS use in the investigation.
“As with this investigation like all the others, there are many aspects that we don’t release because it might hurt that investigation and prosecution and our efforts in the future There are many things about this investigation, many questions that I can’t talk about,” Starks said.
Earl M. Kenney, 55, of Capitol Heights, and Michael A. Heard, 40, of Washington, D.C., are each being held on $1 million bail in connection with the robbery.
Codefendant Ricko D. Ford, 20, of Capitol Heights is being held without bail pending the results of a mental competency screening, over concern that he may have a disability.
Kenney and Heard were each charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a violent felony. Ford was charged with one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
All three could face 40 years behind bars, according to Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the county state’s attorney’s office.