A Tooele couple was arrested Monday after allegedly robbing a bank — with their two young children in the back seat of their car.
William and Michelle Parker, both 27, were arrested in a east Tooele neighborhood after their vehicle was followed by an off-duty police officer.
That officer just happened to be in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym when he noticed the couple acting suspiciously at Wells Fargo Bank, said Sgt. Todd Hewitt of the Tooele City Police Department.
The off-duty officer, Sgt. Don Nelson, stopped the vehicle and called for assistance from other officers who arrested the couple, even as the robbery was being called out by dispatch.
According to witness statements and interviews with the couple, Michelle Parker went into Wells Fargo on the corner of Main Street and Utah Avenue at about noon. She gave a note to a bank teller demanding money, Hewitt said.
No weapon or threat of a weapon was used. Other customers in the bank told police they didn’t know a robbery was occurring at the time.
The teller, following bank protocol, gave money to the woman — a little more than $950 — and activated the silent alarm, Hewitt said. Michelle Parker then ran outside to William Parker who was behind the wheel of a rented blue Chevrolet Cruze.
“Wells Fargo did a very good job,” said Hewitt. “It was a great job that our officer did observing the activity. But even if he hadn’t the information provided [by Wells Fargo] it would have lead to a quick arrest.”
As it was, police cars descended on the couple on Valley View Drive near the Grandview Circle intersection, just about a block away from their home. Hewitt said the couple was arrested and a search warrant was obtained for their car where the money was recovered. Also in the car was the couple’s two young children, a boy and a girl aged two and five, he added.
“I don’t think the kids had any idea the bank had been robbed,” Hewitt said. “They were obviously scared by the whole event — the traffic stop and the arrest and all that — but I don’t think they were aware their parents had gone to rob a bank.”
A representative from the Division of Child and Family Services arrived to assess the situation, and is currently working with a family member to arrange care for the children, Hewitt said.
He added the Parkers moved to Tooele in November and had recently suffered financial troubles, including a layoff, medical bills and the threat of eviction.
“During the interviews both of them said one had been recently laid off and there had been some medical bills, things like that,” said Hewitt. “Tough financial times is what they were saying was the motive.”
According to a probable cause statement, Michelle Parker told officers she had conducted surveillance on the bank earlier in the day to identify security camera locations and angles, and told her husband she believed they could get away with the robbery.
William Parker initially told police he had no knowledge of the robbery until after his wife showed him the money. He later told officers, however, he helped plan the heist and was the author of a second robbery note that had not been used, according to the probable cause statement.
Neither Michelle nor William have criminal histories according to Utah Court records. However, according to jail records, William had two warrants for allegedly driving under the influence.
Both were booked into the Tooele County Detention Center on charges of robbery.