Alleged bank robber apprehended
Authorities in Truckee put the collar on a man Wednesday who was sought for the alleged robbery of three South Lake Tahoe banks.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Capt. Gary Jacobson said the suspect, Meredith Howard Polzel, was located in the Cottage Motel downtown around midnight on Aug. 25 and taken into custody by officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Lake Tahoe Police Department and NCSO.
Jacobson said the 52-year-old suspect was apparently trying to catch a bus out of town. Polzel is a native of Salem, Ore., but has no current address.
According to South Lake Tahoe Police Det. Martin D. Hewlett, Polzel is suspected in the robbery of three South Lake Tahoe Banks during the past week. The last robbery occurred at 4:47 p.m. Tuesday, in the Wells Fargo Branch at Raley’s in South Lake Tahoe.
“A white male suspect entered the Wells Fargo Bank inside Raley’s at 4010 U.S. Highway 50 and approached a teller window,” Hewlett wrote in a report to media. “The suspect used a note and demanded money from the bank. The suspect indicated that he was armed with a gun.
Fearing for the safety of customers and bank personnel, a teller complied with the demand, and the suspect fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.”
The suspect was described as a very thin white male, about 45 to 50 years old, 6-feet, 2-inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds.
Hewlett said the other two robberies, which occurred at the El Dorado Savings Bank on U.S. 50 on Aug. 19 and the U.S. Bank on Highway 50 on Aug. 23, were very similar, both in the description of the suspect and in the execution of the crimes. Police said they believed the same suspect committed all of the crimes.
Polzel’s capture came after extensive legwork and investigation by authorities in South Lake Tahoe.
After the latest crime, South Lake Tahoe police officers began a canvass of the surrounding neighborhood, which turned up the lead they sought.
“Officer Michael Salsbury located a local motel owner in the Stateline area who believed that a man matching the description of the suspect had stayed at the motel,” Hewlett said. He said subsequent investigation revealed that the subject was using the name Michael Jones, and that he had given false identification and phone number on his rental form, with a Los Angeles address.
“Based on the false statements on the rental receipt, it was believed that this subject was using a false name to conceal his identity,” Hewlett said.
Authorities discovered that “Jones” had solicited a ride from South Lake Tahoe to Truckee from a local transportation service. A representative of the company told officers that the subject had been picked up at the Stateline motel immediately following the robbery and taken to Truckee, where he paid the service about $200.
Hewlett said the amount paid and the denomination of the currency used was consistent with a portion of the loss in the latest robbery.
“With this information in mind, investigators from South Lake Tahoe Police Department and the FBI responded to Truckee to locate the suspect,” Hewlett said.
Hewlett and Special Agent Chris Campion contacted the manager of the Cottage Motel on Donner Pass Road in Truckee shortly after midnight, and discovered that a man giving the name Michael Jones had checked in at the motel earlier that evening and paid cash.
The investigators contacted Jones in his motel room, and observed that he was a physical match for the suspect in the South Lake Tahoe robberies.
Hewlett said evidence in plain sight also linked the suspect to the robberies, and he was arrested immediately.
Following his arrest, Polzel provided his true name to investigators. A subsequent search of his hotel room recovered cash and physical evidence from the robberies. Polzel was booked at the El Dorado County Jail for three counts of robbery.
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Nevada County is now likely to remain in the red tier barring “extenuating circumstances,” thanks to changes to the state’s reopening blueprint announced this week.