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Pasco bank robbery suspect says he was broke

PORT RICHEY — Pasco sheriff's detectives have arrested a man accused of three bank robberies in west Pasco — including two at the same bank.

Harold Van Horn, 66, was arrested Wednesday at the Travel Lodge at 11736 U.S. 19 in Port Richey. Authorities say he had been staying at numerous hotels along U.S. 19.

Detectives say the robber struck three times last month, hitting the Regions Bank on Embassy Boulevard in Port Richey on Dec. 9 and Dec. 21, then robbing the Fifth Third Bank in Hudson on Dec. 29.

In all three instances, the man handed the teller a threatening note demanding money. He wore sunglasses but made no other attempt to disguise his appearance.

He made off with $5,750 total from the three heists. Upon his arrest, Van Horn told deputies he had already spent the money.

Last week, deputies found several red-stained bills in a change machine of the carwash at 7424 Ridge Road in New Port Richey. Deputies believe two dye packs, used in bank robberies to identify stolen money, exploded in Van Horn's car.

No weapon was recovered. Because the robber told the tellers in all three cases he had a gun, Van Horn was charged with armed robbery.

Upon his capture Wednesday, Van Horn told detectives he lost his job in Ohio, traveled to Florida, ran out of money and turned to robbing banks to support himself.

Deputies said they were able to contact a woman who met Van Horn while he was in the area, unaware he was an alleged bank robber.

She tipped them off to his location. Deputies arrested Van Horn when he left his hotel room after she asked him to pick her up.

Officials did not release the woman's identity or the nature of their relationship.

Van Horn has been charged with three counts of robbery with a deadly weapon or firearm.

He remained at the Land O'Lakes jail on Thursday. Bail has been set at $300,000.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Pasco bank robbery suspect says he was broke 01/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 8:22pm]
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