BENNINGTON >> Police say a man accused of robbing the Heritage Family Credit Union on Friday dropped a significant amount of stolen cash as he fled down Pleasant Street, and that residents who snatched up money and concealed it are also facing charges.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said that Royal Palin, 35, is in custody and will be facing at least a felony robbery charge on Monday in Vermont Superior Court.
Palin has a Burlington address, but is believed to have been staying at an apartment in Bennington for the past week or so.
On Friday at 12:50 p.m., police received an alarm notice at the Heritage Family Credit Union at 206 Pleasant St. Upon arrival, they learned that a male entered the credit union and gave the teller a note demanding money. He became threatening when the teller did not comply fast enough.
Doucette said the suspect stuffed an undisclosed sum of cash into the pockets of his shirt and fled the credit union. From there, he got on a red bicycle and headed east down Pleasant Street, cash flying out of his pockets as he went.
"Residents of Pleasant Street ran out, picked up the money and concealed the money, never notified the police despite the fact there were multiple police cars going up and down Pleasant Street," said Doucette.
One of those people, Tracy Kramer, 33, of Pleasant Street, is facing a felony grand larceny charge and false information to police. Doucette said two others are being sought for picking up the stolen money.
The credit union tellers were able to quickly supply police with photos from the building's surveillance cameras. In the photos, the suspect was seen to have a beard.
While talking to the people on Pleasant Street, police learned that a man on a red bicycle fitting the robber's description had been seen dumping the bicycle near an apartment at the corner of Pleasant Street and Main Street before entering the building.
Police watched the building while they applied for a search warrant that would allow them to enter, since no one was answering the door.
"As we were waiting, a male by the name of Royal Palin...emerged from the apartment and was recognized as the person from the photos, however at this point, Royal was clean shaven," said Doucette, adding that it was clear Palin had recently shaved. "He did not do a very good job, and you could clearly tell he had just shaved."
The bank teller that was robbed identified Palin as the robber.
Palin has outstanding warrants in Vermont for burglary offenses and retail theft in the Chittenden County area.
Police searched the apartment Palin had been in. They found clothing matching what the robber was seen wearing, plus a large amount of cash that had been concealed.
Police did not say how much cash was stolen. At least $1,500 was dropped in the street. Police have not recovered all of the money that was taken.
Doucette said they have spoken with the boyfriend of the woman who rents that apartment, but not the woman herself. It's not clear what ties Palin has to Bennington.
Aside from Bennington Police, the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, Vermont State Police, and Vermont Game Wardens responded.
"The bank tellers did a fantastic job, they kept their cool," said Bennington Police Sgt. Cam Grande, who oversaw the scene at the credit union. "They did what they were supposed to do. I got there and they quickly accessed the surveillance and got that information to us so we were able to get it out to the officers and the public. ... For that teller to experience that type of event and be able to keep her cool and access the surveillance that quickly so we could get it off their system and out to the officers in the field real fast, kudos to her."
Doucette credited those members of the public who kept their eyes open and gave police information.
Palin was arrested at approximately 4:30 p.m.
"We had this solved in about three and a half hours," Doucette said.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115