Before opening for business Wednesday, Jan. 27, one or more individuals entered Cottonwood Bank of America through the rear door of the building and removed approximately $350,000 from the bank.
The event occurred less than two weeks after an armed robbery occurred at Chase Bank in Camp Verde.
On Jan. 27, at approximately 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., Cottonwood Police Department officers had responded to alarm calls from Bank of America. On both occasions, officers examined the outside of the building and checked the doors.
According to Detective Sgt. Tod Moore of the Cottonwood Police Department Criminal Investigations Division, “there was no forced entry into the building.”
“It appears that the suspect may have had knowledge of banking procedures to include security procedures,” a press release from Cottonwood PD Cmdr. Gary Eisenga stated.
Cottonwood PD Chief Steve Gesell added Jan. 28, “Whoever committed this particular crime .... There’s indication that significant forethought went into it, perhaps some attempts to test the security system over the past month, but we’re still looking into that.”
Without attributing a source, 12 News NBC reported Jan. 28 that “bank employees were shocked when they arrived for work and found the vault wide open.” The reporter added that the security cameras were disabled during the robbery.
Asked how difficult or complex a process it would be to pull off a robbery during off-hours, a representative of a competing area bank who wished not to be identified said, “You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in banking who will answer that question.”
Security protocols and technology are proprietary to each bank, the representative said, and thus closely-guarded. Nonetheless, he added, “It’s not easy.”
The Cottonwood PD criminal investigations division continues to investigate the burglary along with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office and Yavapai County Attorney’s Office personnel.
No suspect information has been obtained at this time; however, investigative leads are being pursued, according to Moore. “We do have a couple people of interest we’re looking for. However, it’s still a very fluid investigation.”
According to Eisenga, “Information has been obtained that a white sedan was seen in the area during the time of the initial alarm call at 1 a.m.”