Tempe police arrested a man Monday who may be responsible for more than a dozen robberies across the Northwest, where the FBI dubbed him the “Grocery Store Bandit.”
Detectives from Spokane, Washington called Tempe police at 2:30 p.m. and told them bank robbery suspect James R. Joseph, 34, had flown to Phoenix last week and was staying with family in the 2300 Block of West Vineyard.
“The family members he was staying with had no idea this was going on and were very cooperative,” said Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Mike Horn.
Members of the Tempe Special Investigations Bureau, including members of the tactical team, surrounded the residence, Horn said.
They used several ruses, such as errands and getting kids to play in the park, to get eight people — including children — out of the residence so the suspect would be alone in the house.
After that was completed, police commanded the suspect to leave the home, where he was taken into custody about 5:50 p.m. without incident.
Spokane police said Joseph was arrested on suspicion of Friday’s robbery of a Washington Mutual Bank branch in Spokane and the March 26 holdup of the Washington Trust Bank, also in Spokane.
Spokane detectives Mark Burbridge and Kip Hollenbeck developed information over the weekend that led to the issuance of the arrest warrant, according to a news release from Spokane police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick.
Spokane detectives were interviewing Joseph on Tuesday in an attempt to link him to other robberies, including some in northwest Oregon.
Most of the robberies occurred at banks inside grocery stores, earning the suspect the label of the “Grocery Store Bandit.”
Horn said Spokane detectives flew out Tuesday to interview Joseph.
Joseph was booked into Tempe City Jail and is being held at Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail.