A Glenwood Springs man is expected to plead guilty later this month to robbing an El Jebel bank twice in less than four months.
Those incidents, and two other apparently unrelated bank robberies, raised alarm among valley law enforcement and bank employees in 2012.
Jeremy Harmon, 38, pleaded guilty in November to robbing the midvalley Vectra Bank, first in March and then again in June. He told police that he was having financial difficulties, court documents show, and his guilty plea also saw him take responsibility for twice robbing a Glenwood check-cashing business in 2011.
His crimes added to the anxiety of bank staffers who were already on edge after U.S. Bank in downtown Glenwood Springs was robbed April 27 (a Denver man was arrested for that crime).
On May 5, the Wells Fargo bank on Highway 133 in Carbondale was robbed by a man who tied up employees and a customer at gunpoint.
The behavior in that robbery — the suspect remains at large — was markedly different from how police say Harmon acted when he robbed the El Jebel Vectra Bank.
During those crimes, Harmon was accused of using ski garb as a disguise and handing the teller — the same one in both cases — a note demanding money. No weapon was used, police said.
After the Carbondale robbery, police in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale visited banks to discuss security measures.
“This [robbery] is not same as the others we’ve had in this area,” said Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling in May, after he had met with the FBI. “If it is the same man, he changed things a lot.”
The fact that the Carbondale bank robber used a semi-automatic pistol and tied up six people “definitely upped the ante,” said former Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor, when asked about speaking with bank officials.
Aspen police and local bank officials reviewed response plans, the training and retraining of employees, and the importance of “being a good witness,” department spokeswoman Blair Weyer said.
“The officers spoke about the importance of being diligent and observant,” she said. “The ability to stay calm can only help identify that person.”