Bank manager recognizes familiar walk during robbery

If it were a Perry Mason mystery, perhaps it would be “The Case of the Distinctive Gait.”

In reality, the FBI says an Artesia bank manager noticed “the same walk and mannerisms as one of their regular customers” displayed by a man who robbed the Washington Federal Bank on July 15, ultimately leading authorities to Roman Poulsen, 39, and his girlfriend, Lori Crapo, 40, both of Artesia, who have now been charged in connection with the case.

According to the affidavit with the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Roswell, around 9:20 a.m., a man walked into the bank at 602 West Texas – his face was covered with a cloth mask, sunglasses and a hoodie – and handed a teller a note that said, “This is a robbery, open up your till and give me everything you have. Don’t trigger no alarms and don’t tell anyone. Everyone can go back to family safe.”

The bandit was given money, including “bait money” used to identify cash taken during a robbery. An immediate audit showed $1,899 was missing.

An Artesia police detective investigating the robbery learned from the bank manager “that as she observed the suspect walking out, he had the same walk and mannerisms as one of their regular customers” – Poulsen.

Artesia officers tracked Poulsen to the Legacy Inn, where he was living with his girlfriend, and “learned that a female, later identified as Lori Crapo had just quit her job and left with her boyfriend, Roman Poulsen. Officers also learned that Poulsen had arrived earlier and was sweating and appeared to be in a hurry.”

Poulsen allegedly burned something in the dumpster behind the motel before leaving – items police said were clothing and shoes.

Officers later found Poulsen’s car at Fenn’s Country Market on West Main Street and detained Poulsen outside, while Crapo was found inside the grocery store. Police said store security camera video showed she had put something on to a shelf before being taken into custody.

“This area in and around the area where Crapo was observed was searched by Artesia officers and a large quality of U.S. currency was located hidden behind a box of ice cream cones,” the affidavit reads, adding that it included bait money that had been given to the bank robber.

The Legacy Inn manager told Artesia Police that Poulsen had arrived that morning and paid the money he owed, or $560, and that “the hotel room Poulsen and Crapo had been staying in was still full of items after they left in a hurry.”

After search warrants were served, Artesia Police said $560 was recovered from the safe at the Legacy Inn, $1,289 from Fenn’s, including $60 in bait money, and $31.28 from inside Crapo’s purse. Police said she also spent $20 on cigarettes there, too. The money totaled $1,900.28, or almost the exact amount missing from the bank.

Poulsen has been charged with bank robbery. Crapo is charged with being an accessory after the fact. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years, while she faces up to 10, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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