Police caught the alleged culprit in a very low-budget bank robbery last week by stopping his getaway vehicle — a SEPTA bus — and taking him into custody.
According to police, Daniel Connelly presented a demand note to a teller at the Wells Fargo bank at 9101 Roosevelt Blvd. at 4:47 p.m. on June 24. He got $500, left the bank and caught a southbound Route 1 bus.
His escape was only temporary, although his page in the annals of stupid crime is likely to be eternal. Second District officers stopped the bus on the Boulevard’s 7300 block and took Connelly into custody without any trouble, Office Jillian Russell, a police department spokeswoman, and. Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives said Connelly was armed only with a bus pass.
Connelly, of the 2200 block of Brill Street, was charged with robbery, theft and related offenses, according to the city’s online court records. He’ll get a preliminary hearing in July.
But, that’s not all.
By June 26, authorities had charged Connelly with four other robberies — two of which were committed on the same day he allegedly robbed Wells Fargo.
Capt. Frank Palumbo, the 2nd Police District’s commander, said a tracking device was put in the cash handed over to the Wells Fargo robber. The company that maintains the device was contacted by police, and updates on its position were broadcast over police radio.
Upon learning the tracker was headed southbound on the Boulevard, police stopped traffic on the 12-lane roadway, Rosenbaum said, but the tracking device kept moving.
“The only thing we had let through was a bus,” Rosenbaum said.
Second District Officers Thomas Farrell and Robert Gill stopped the bus at Cottman and the Boulevard and put Connelly under arrest, Palumbo said. Connelly’s escape had lasted only about 10 to 15 minutes, the captain added.
The 28-year-old Connelly has an adult criminal record that dates back to 2007. He was convicted of robbery in 2008 and pleaded guilty to burglary in 2011. Rosenbaum said he thinks Connelly had been convicted for robbing some Wawa stores.
He’s now accused of robbing another one on June 24, the same day he allegedly robbed Wells Fargo on the Boulevard and the Viriva Credit Union on the 7300 block of Frankford Ave, according to a Police Department news release. Rosenbaum said Connelly hit the credit union just before noon and the convenience store shortly after 1 p.m.
Connelly also allegedly robbed the 3rd Fed Bank on the 2600 block of Orthodox Street on June 14 and the Republic Bank on the 7300 block of Cottman Avenue on June 19.
The lieutenant said surveillance footage linked Connelly to the crimes committed before the Wells Fargo robbery.
Rosenbaum said police figure Connelly rode public transportation to and from his crimes. “He doesn’t have a car,” the lieutenant said.
Using a SEPTA vehicle to escape from a crime scene has happened on occasion, said Andrew Busch, a transit agency spokesman, but it is by no means anything but a rare occurrence.
“Every once in a while, someone will get on a SEPTA vehicle following a crime off of SEPTA property,” Busch said in a June 25 email to the Northeast Times.
Rosenbaum said it isn’t even that unusual in his experience. Criminals who don’t have cars will jump on buses on subways to try to get away from crime scenes.
Busch said SEPTA’s police work closely with the city’s department during such situations.
“Our surveillance cameras are also of great assistance in incidents like this, both in terms of trying to find or identify a person, and, as possible evidence in the prosecution of the case,” he stated.
Given that there about a million passenger trips on SEPTA every day, the number of riders who may see something like the arrest of a bank robbery suspect is very small, Busch said.
In the case of the alleged bank robber, Busch said, there were 15 other passengers on the bus he caught. They were transferred to other vehicles after that bus was stopped.
The bus was held as a crime scene for about an hour, Busch said. ••