Old-fashioned police footwork and high-tech tools led to the arrest of a “serial bank robber.”
On Aug. 28, FBI agents and Phoenix Police Department officers arrested Scott David Williams, 59, in Peoria. He is accused of wearing a face mask and dark glasses as he demanded money from tellers in a string of West Valley bank robberies.
According to the FBI, Williams robbed seven West Valley banks this summer, including West Valley National Bank in Goodyear.
Williams is accused of stealing around $25,000 from the banks. His method was to calmly walk up to a teller, shove an envelope or bag at the teller and demand money.
After robberies in Peoria, Surprise and Sun City, his decision to hit a Goodyear bank may have been his undoing.
At the West Valley National Bank, according to court documents, Williams “told the victim teller he had an accomplice waiting outside listening to a police scanner. (Williams) also told the victim teller to remain calm and not give him any bait bills. ...
“The victim teller initially refused (Williams’) demands. Eventually, (Williams) walked to the branch manager’s office and told the branch manager to tell the victim teller to give him the money in the drawer. The victim teller complied and placed the money in the envelope.”
According to court documents, Goodyear police officers investigated the West Valley National Bank robbery on Litchfield Road south of West Thomas Road. Officer Michael McFadden found a discarded black, long-sleeved shirt matching a description of what the suspect was wearing near Lexington and 144th avenues—less than a mile from the bank.
A week later, a Department of Public Safety lab found DNA from the shirt matched Williams.
He was in the system: After convictions for two California bank robberies, Williams was in prison from 1987 to 1994 and 1996 to 2007.
Though Williams had a Surprise address, investigators found a post office box he rented was shared by two others who lived in Wickenburg, according to court documents.
On Aug. 26, investigators at a stakeout in Wickenburg spotted Williams and tracked him for two days.
On Aug. 28, detectives followed Williams from Wickenburg to North Phoenix, where he entered a Bank of America. He did not attempt to rob that bank. “The presence of a security guard ... dissuaded Wiliams from attempting to rob it at that time,” according to court documents.
Phoenix police detectives continued to follow Williams as he drove to a nearby Chase Bank near Carefree Highway and Interstate 17. There, he allegedly demanded money, “but the victim teller did not initially understand Williams due to the face covering and Williams speaking softly,” according to court documents.
“Williams then pushed a bag under the bandit barrier and said ‘fill it up with money.’ The victim teller realized it was a bank robbery and dispensed $1,000 from the cash machine. The victim teller tried to give the money to Williams, but Williams refused and said, ‘No, do it again.’ The victim teller dispensed another $1,000. Again the victim teller tried to give the money to Williams and again Williams insisted, saying, ‘No, do it again.’
“After dispensing another $1,000, the victim teller placed $3,000 in the bag and pushed it under the barrier. This time Williams took the money and walked out of the bank.”
Detectives again followed Williams, who drove 20 miles to the Haymaker restaurant on West Thunderbird Road in Peoria.
After watching Williams discard a shirt he wore in the bank, Phoenix police officers arrested Williams, according to the court documents.
“The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force would like to thank the Goodyear Police Department and Phoenix Police Department for their outstanding work on this case along with the Arizona Department of Public Safety laboratory, the Surprise Police Department, Peoria Police Department and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” said an FBI press release.