Fargo Police: Multiple factors contribute to unsolved robberiesFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Just how many strong armed robberies over the past three years have been solved? There have been three business armed robberies in Fargo this year alone, all unsolved. Police are hopeful these and half of all others will eventually lead to arrests.
By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY
A Minneapolis man, dubbed “The Man in Black” is arrested for robbing a Fargo bank. Forty-nine year-old Mark Wetsch may be linked to more than a dozen robberies in the region. He has not yet been charged in Cass County.
Police suspect him of robbing Western State Bank, on 13th Avenue South on February 11th, 2011. The robber walked into the bank, approached a teller, and demanded money. Within a minute, he fled on foot.
In 2005, Wetsch was imprisoned for defrauding a Twin Cities nursing home, where he worked, out of 1 point $4 million.
Just how many strong armed robberies over the past three years have been solved? There have been three business armed robberies in Fargo this year alone, all unsolved. Police are hopeful these and half of all others will eventually lead to arrests.
Lt. Joel Vettel – Fargo Police: “You always strive for perfection.”
Of the 18 business armed robberies in 2011, only 7 have led to arrests. Four have been referred to the state's attorney for possible charges. Another four are inactive, and three are open investigations.
Lt. Joel Vettel: “We have such a high level of clearance rate in these types of cases.”
Both 2010 and 2009 saw 11 such robberies. About half of those were solved, well above the national average of 20%.
Lt. Joel Vettel: “When you have such a low level of violent crime in our community, when these things happen we are able to put a lot more resources in to these types of crimes.”
Detective Greg Warren – West Fargo Police Department: “Working on the hot cases when they come in, you get hot leads and follow up on them. That doesn't mean they stop working on them, but there are a lot of other things that they get pulled on each day.”
After two to three months of no developments, the trail starts getting cold. In many cases the suspect is a copycat. Someone who comes from outside the community commits the armed robbery, then flees.
Lt. Joel Vettel: “We often times have cases especially with travelers that aren't from our community that travel to our community to commit a robbery.”
Detective Greg Warren: “We're unique in this area because we have two interstate systems that criss-cross our area so that brings a lot of people in and out of here in a hurry.”
Lt. Joel Vettel: “Those are a little bit more difficult to solve locally because we just have no leads.”
Another problem is the suspects themselves; they are getting smarter to avoid being caught.
Detective Greg Warren: “People don't walk in and stick their face right up to the camera. Most people these days know there are surveillance videos and cameras.”
West Fargo and Moorhead have similar statistics, but they don't have the sheer number of armed robberies as Fargo. Police credit the community, cooperation from businesses, and strong level of law enforcement to solving, again, half of those crimes.