Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Walk-Through of Robbery Investigation Kicks Off January Program

Cedar Falls -- Local Kiwanians went on a "job shadow" with Special Agent Scott Reger, a 24-year veteran of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI),  at their meeting last Wednesday.

Special Agent Scott Reger speaks last Wednesday.
He led them through a real-life investigation into a 2016 armed robbery of several thousands of dollars from a bank in Hopkinton, and how investigators and law enforcement went about tracking down the "bad guys," and ultimately putting them behind bars.

Reger kicked off Law Enforcement Month for the Cedar Falls Kiwanis “Rough Risers” Club. Two more with public safety expertise will join the group this week and the following one, before the club moves onto its February program, which will include speakers with experience in city government and education.   

Cedar Falls Police Chief Craig Berte will join Kiwanians Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 a.m. at Lifestyle Inn, 5826 University Avenue, where weekly meetings are held, to talk about the city’s public safety officer (PSO) model, its role in helping protect citizens, and more about his law enforcement background.

The following Wednesday, Jan. 26, Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson will stop by a meeting to also share additional details about what his job involves.

** Click "Read more>>" below to learn about what Special Agent Reger shared with the group. **

“We're the Cedar Falls Rough Risers Kiwanis Club. We get up early, and we’re known as the good guys at sunrise, but there’s also bad guys out there,” said Lynn Barnes, a current member and past president who set up this month’s lineup of speakers, at the last meeting.

These individuals in law enforcement deal with the “baddest of the bad.”

“I enjoy these types of presentations because these people provide us an important service,” Barnes said. “Their number one responsibility is to protect us, and these are the guys who are on the front lines.

“It’s a nation of laws, and they have to enforce them, and for that reason, I love these guys, and can't thank them enough.”

Plenty of opportunities are made available during and after the weekly presentations to ask questions.

A Recap of Special Agent Reger’s Presentation

Reger’s presentation gave Kiwanians an inside look into “what it looks like to go from an unknown -- ‘what in the world just happened?!’ -- all the way to how things come together.”

He provided the bank’s security camera video recording to Kiwanians of the robbery at 8:43 a.m on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, so they could watch the two criminals, who were wearing masks and armed with a knife and gun, enter the bank and leave with several thousands of dollars.

It was a quick, two-minute operation. The bank clerk and manager were tied up, and another clerk was threatened to open up the bank drawers and vault.

Reger asked the group if anyone noticed anything unique from the footage. Kiwanians pointed out details, like them wearing a University of Illinois jacket, hyper blue shoes, different colors gloves, and a backpack. 

But Reger walked them through this exercise to prove a point: Investigators don’t start with a lot of information.

“The reality of this particular one is this is how most things start, you have some basic information, you have a victim (the bank), you’ve got a suspect or suspects in here, and you have a description of who they are.”

The spark came when investigators conducted interviews with bank employees, and asked if they noticed anything out of the ordinary during the work week.

A teller was “situationally aware,” and noted a gentleman came into the bank the past Monday, acting strange and looking like he was videotaping the bank with his cell phone. This person was there for less than a minute, asked about a checking account, and then walked out.

And his shoes, in the Monday camera footage, to the delight of investigators, matched those worn by one of the crooks in the video recording of the Friday robbery. 

“It was fantastic catch by the teller,” Reger said. “… What that comes down to, is just doing good interviews with people, and asking good questions.”

Investigators now had an image of the man’s face, and canvassed video camera footage in the area, and found a City Hall recording of the guy getting into a vehicle.

Special Agent Scott Reger speaks last Wednesday.
“We went from really not knowing a whole lot, to now we got a face and now we’ve got a vehicle that this guy went into on Monday,” he said, “And sure enough when we go back to that same video on the Friday that the bank robbery occurs, up here is this same vehicle shortly before the bank robbery.”

Investigators put out a press release Tuesday, Oct. 26 with the face and car, and Wednesday, heard from a member of the public who helped identify the culprits as an old boyfriend and his friend.

There was lots of work in the days to follow that ultimately led investigators to track down these guys, as well as a third person involved, and build a case beyond the circumstantial evidence. 

They found the culprits had traveled all the way to New York City, and ultimately captured them in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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