March 6, 2013 —
A Honesdale resident has been arrested in connection with the robbery of the Citizens Bank of Honesdale on Willow Avenue on February 20. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Steven French was arrested on March 1 after an investigation by the Honesdale Borough police and Pennsylvania State Police departments.
District Attorney Janine Edwards said that, during the robbery, French handed the teller a note demanding money, and said that he had a gun and a partner outside. The note said the teller should act quickly and everyone would be safe. The teller responded by putting money into a tote bag he handed her, and French left the building, but his image was caught by surveillance cameras.
Witnesses were able to tell officials the route French took when he left the bank, which lead them to view security footage at Rent-E-Quip, a business located at 416 Old Willow Avenue. The footage showed French running southbound. A state police officer located a single set of shoeprints in the snow off the side of the roadway 200 yards south of Rent-E-Quip. The shoeprints led into a wooded area then to a side door of a tattoo parlor located at 164 Grandview Ave.
Police officers entered the tattoo parlor business, which was open at the time, and made contact with French. A photo of him was taken and the investigation continued. Shortly thereafter French obtained a Maple City Taxi Cab and was driven to Dover, NJ. French paid $160 in cash for the cab fare and left a $20 tip.
On February 22, Bill French, owner of the tattoo parlor and Steven’s brother, was interviewed by Honesdale police officials. Bill said that he picked up his brother from New Jersey on February 17, and brought him to his apartment, located in the rear of his tattoo shop. Bill said Steven stayed with him until February 20 when Steven abruptly left the apartment without saying goodbye.
Bill said that he was missing a pair of black winter gloves, a pair of brownish colored sneaker-type shoes sized 9-1/2, a green-colored cloth tote bag and several plastic grocery bags. Bill said he was not missing any money.
Also on February 22, a line-up consisting of eight photographs, including a photograph of Steven, was shown to the bank teller. The teller positively identified Steven as the person who robbed the bank.
The next day, a contractor who was working in the apartment at the tattoo parlor on February 20, was interviewed. He said when he arrived for work on the day of the robbery, Steven and Bill were there. He told the officers that Steven left during the course of the day but returned in the afternoon “sweaty and flustered.”
Three days later, Honesdale police were supplied with a copy of a handwritten letter that Steven wrote to his sister a few years ago. The handwriting on the letter appeared very similar to the handwriting on the bank robbery note.
Steven was apprehended by the Secaucus, NJ Police Department for extradition to Pennsylvania.
District Attorney Edwards said that the police work done by the Honesdale Borough Police Department was exceptional and led to the positive identification and subsequent arrest of a man who terrorized the employees at Citizens Bank two weeks ago.