A resident of a Glendale halfway house who allegedly robbed banks from Peoria to Avondale told police he needed money to fuel his drug habit.
William Cantrell, 29, faces various robbery and burglary charges.
“Don’t press the alarm or you’ll make me do something,” he allegedly told a teller.
Cantrell, who worked at an Albertsons distribution facility in Tolleson, is accused of robbing or attempting to rob a string of West Valley banks from Sept. 18 to Nov. 4:
• U.S. Bank, 6611 W. Bell Road, Glendale.
• U.S. Bank, 12320 N. 83rd Avenue, Peoria.
• Alaska Federal Credit Union, 1575 N. Dysart Road, Avondale.
• U.S. Bank, 12970 W. Indian School Road, Litchfield Park.
He allegedly targeted banks in grocery stores, in each case passing a “demand note” to a teller, according to the FBI.
“The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force would like to thank the Phoenix Police Department for their outstanding work on this case along with Arizona Department of Public Safety, Mesa Police Department, Glendale Police Department, Peoria Police Department, Avondale Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” said an FBI press release.
After following him for weeks, detectives arrested Cantrell outside a Mesa bank Nov. 4.
According to court records, Cantrell’s string of crimes started Sept. 18 at a U.S. Bank center inside a Fry’s grocery store on Bell Road and 67th Avenue in Glendale.
After verbally warning the teller not to press an alarm, he handed a note saying, “All $100s $50s $20s and $10s no dye packs no trackers/GPS no alarms til gone.”
The teller later described him to police as being tall and slender with light brown or blond hair and “dirty hands.”
Eight days later, Cantrell allegedly used a similar note to rob a U.S. Bank inside a Safeway in Peoria—5 miles from the first crime scene.
He then allegedly used an identical note to rob a teller on 83rd Avenue and Cactus Road in Peoria.
The FBI said Cantrell next used a note to demand money at an Alaska Federal Credit Union inside the Fry’s grocery store in Avondale.
Then, on Oct. 6, he allegedly was back in that neighborhood to rob a U.S. Bank near North Dysart and Indian School roads. But when he allegedly presented a demand note in Litchfield Park, the teller “told the suspect he could not do anything without his identification. The suspect told the victim he left his identification in his car, then picked the note up and walked away.”
The teller told police the foiled bank robber’s hands were shaking when he picked up the note.
Nearly a month later, Cantrell allegedly robbed a U.S. Bank inside a Safeway grocery store in Mesa.
A teller gave Cantrell $1,350.
But, by then surveillance of Cantrell was in place.
“Cantrell took the money and exited the store. As Cantrell was getting into his vehicle he was apprehended by several plainclothes officers,” according to court documents.
“During a post-Miranda (rights) interview, Cantrell stated that he has a drug problem and that is why he robbed the U.S. Bank,” the court documents state.
Cantrell became a suspect after an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper stopped him Oct. 10 and questioned him about an expired registration. After discovering Cantrell was driving on a suspended license, the trooper searched Cantrell and found a note similar to one used in the bank robberies. The trooper also allegedly searched Cantrell’s backpack and found two bank money bags.
“The trooper was suspicious and questioned (Cantrell) and he said he had just bought the backpack and the money bags were in it,” according to the court document.
After the trooper reported the incident to the FBI, investigators determined Cantrell met the physical description of the bank robberies suspect—and the note that was on him was identical to ones used in robberies.
For weeks, detectives from the task force then watched Cantrell, who was staying at a sober-living house near Northern and 43rd avenues in Glendale.
The detectives followed Cantrell on two other occasions where he may have been contemplating robberies.
On Oct. 30, detectives followed Cantrell to 83rd Avenue in Peoria, where he lingered in a parking lot outside the U.S. Bank he allegedly robbed three weeks earlier. Though he was observed changing the license plate of the vehicle he was driving, Cantrell did not enter the bank.
On Nov. 2, Cantrell was followed to a parking lot outside the U.S. Bank in a Maryvale Safeway, then the Peoria Safeway/U.S. Bank and an Alaska Federal Credit Union inside a Fry’s in Peoria, but did not attempt to rob those bank centers.
After an initial court appearance Nov. 5, Cantrell was due for an arraignment at Maricopa County Superior Court Friday, Nov. 20.