By Yadira Betances
LAWRENCE — A 31-year-old suspect in a Merrimack Valley Credit Union robbery thought shaving his beard would help him elude police, but he was wrong.
On Thursday afternoon, Anthony Arias of 112 Marston St., Apt. 202, allegedly went into the credit union at 500 Merrimack St., on the RiverWalk complex and handed the teller a note demanding money in 20s without a dye pack.
On the bank’s surveillance camera he is seen with a dark beard, but when he was nabbed by police at his home, Arias was clean shaven. Sgt. John Dushame took a new photo where Arias’ skin was irritated and he had bloody spots consistent with a recent shaving
“This is an open and shut case,” Police Chief John Romero said. “All the pieces were there. I give credit to the bank personnel and the officers who were familiar with the suspects.”
After the robbery took place at 3:52 p.m., the teller came from behind the counter to lock the bank’s door. The teller told police the suspect got into a blue Mazda 6 with New Hampshire licence plates. Bank officials were able to provide officers the plate’s number.
Patrolman Kevin M. Schiavone was on his way to Marston Street when Officer Ariel Montas radioed in that he had found the car abandoned on Allston Street. Montas told fellow officers he recognized the car’s plate number at a previous stop on Prospect Hill.
After learning that Arias had taken a cab, officers met at 112 Marston St. They knocked on apartment 202 and Molina and Arias opened the door.
In the police report by Detective Kevin Nigohosian, Arias admitted having a car, but said he had lent it to a friend from Boston who had returned it a short time ago. Molina also told officers he had been home watching television.
While in the apartment building, Pierce reviewed the surveillance tape from the complex. He then took Molina to the manager’s office to see if she recognized the man in the video. Molina told police it was Arias, her boyfriend.
Arias was subsequently arrested and photographed. When the new photo was shown to bank officials and clients at the bank, they recognized Arias as the alleged robber.
Working with a search warrant, police found a Galaxy x3 cellphone, two pairs of sneakers, $5,100 in denominations of $100 and $50; nine $100 bills found in shirt in the closet; seven $100 bills in an envelope also in the shirt; an Aeropostle jacket and three zip drives.
The car was registered in Arias’ name, but the Salem, N.H., address was that of his girlfriend Yanira Molina, who lived there in 2009 before moving to Marston Street. Both Molina and Arias are known to police for past offenses.
Capt. Denis Pierce reviewed the bank’s security tapes and bank officials confirmed the suspect was a Hispanic male with dark beard, wearing Red Sox baseball cap, jeans and a dark jacket. When they went to the police station, Dushame showed bank officials an array of photographs from which they identified Arias, even though he no longer had a beard.