EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 10, 2013

Area bank robber sentenced

By Mark Vogler

---- — A man who tried to rob banks in Salem, N.H. and North Andover last July will serve 30 months in prison, United States Attorney John P. Kacavas for the District of New Hampshire announced yesterday.

Joseph Costello, 27, of Lowell, who is linked to four robberies overall, was charged with the July 2 heist last year at the Citizens Bank at Shaw’s Supermarket on Broadway in Salem and the attempted robbery last July 14 at Citizens Bank at the Stop & Shop on Route 114 in North Andover.

Law enforcement officials credited the assistance of citizen responses to the dissemination of surveillance photographs of Costello with leading to his capture and solving the case.

Salem, N.H., police received an anonymous tip from a man who said he knew the suspect in the Salem and North Andover bank robberies. Salem detectives contacted their North Andover counterparts and the Massachusetts State Police. All three departments believed it was the same suspect involved in both heists. North Andover police also received tips from the public.

Costello was also involved in bank robberies Chelmsford and Reading. Investigators say he used the same method for committing each of the robberies: He presented a note to the teller or store employee indicating that a third party had placed a bomb in the building and would detonate the explosive unless the teller or employee provided Costello with money.

The robbery of the bank in Salem actually failed, after Costello dropped the money in the store parking lot after a dye pack exploded.

It didn’t work in the North Andover robbery attempt either. The teller, a young man, told him to leave the bank, which he did. Soon after, North Andover, Wilmington, Chelmsford and Salem police officers went to the home of Costello’s father in Wilmington, where they arrested him.

Costello and his defense lawyer later blamed the robberies on his drug problem stemming from an injury he suffered while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.