Catasauqua Press

Monday, May 25, 2020
PRESS FILE PHOTOSantander Bank, 1240 Third St., Fullerton PRESS FILE PHOTOSantander Bank, 1240 Third St., Fullerton

Allentown man charged in 2016 Whitehall bank robbery

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Police Log

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced March 28 that an Allentown man has been charged in relation to a bank robbery that occurred in Whitehall in May 2016.

According to the news release from the DA’s office, John Cruz, 41, of 209 N. Fourth St., Allentown, has been charged with one count each of robbery/threat of serious bodily Injury, a felony of the first degree, and robbery/making a demand of an employee of a financial institution, a felony of the second degree.

In addition to the charges for the bank robbery, Cruz is facing multiple charges related to auto theft, Martin said. He is charged with two counts each of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, a felony of the third degree; receiving stolen property, a felony of the third degree; unauthorized use of automobile or other vehicles, a misdemeanor of the second degree; and one count of driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, a summary offense.

Cruz is being held in Lehigh County Jail on other charges, according to Martin. His bail was set at $500,000 by Magisterial District Judge Ronald S. Manescu.

According to the news release from the DA’s office, it is alleged that approximately 9:10 a.m. May 4, 2016, Cruz entered the Santander bank, located at 1240 Third St., Fullerton, and committed a robbery, taking $9,535.

Earlier that day, approximately 6 a.m., a 1999 blue Jeep Cherokee was reported stolen from the 100 block of Linden Street in Allentown.

The following morning, May 5, approximately 10:30 a.m., the vehicle was located at the intersection of Jordan and Greenleaf street in Allentown by Detectives Chad Wasserman and Joseph Conway, of the Lehigh County Auto Theft Task Force.

Video from surveillance cameras in the area led to the identification of Cruz as the person exiting the stolen vehicle at approximately 9:30 a.m. May 4 at the location where it was found, according to Martin. Allegedly, additional surveillance video, as well as information given by the victim of the auto theft, revealed the vehicle had been used by Cruz in the robbery of the Santander Bank, Martin said.

On Aug. 4, 2017, 9:12 a.m., Allentown Police received a report of a stolen 1996 red Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle was recovered Aug. 9 at West and Chew streets in Allentown. It is alleged that surveillance camera footage showed Cruz parking the Jeep at that location 12:11 p.m. Aug. 4, according to the DA’s office, and the vehicle was not moved from that site until the time of its recovery.

Both of the stolen vehicles sustained damage to their ignition systems as a result of the thefts, Martin said.

Martin commended Whitehall Township Police Detective Matthew Reszek, as well as Wasserman and Conway, for the investigation leading to Cruz’s arrest.