Aaron Thomas, of West Philadelphia, had two prior bank robbery convictions and was fresh out of prison. He was rusty. The previous week a teller initially turned him away because she could not hear his softly spoken demands.
During the next three years, he would go on to strike four more banks.
On Thursday, Thomas, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court to those robberies.
Though his early bank jobs were comically incompetent, he grew more confident with time. He learned to demand only large bills and frighten tellers with enough menace so they did not give him dye packs. Eventually his hubris would lead to tragedy.
Thomas was arrested Aug. 10 after leading officers on high speed chase in his Range Rover as he fled a Jenkintown bank.
With more than $5,000 in proceeds in a black plastic bag, Thomas collided with two police cruisers injuring two officers. He struck several civilian cars as the chase continued. A collision with a tanker truck did not stop him. After slamming into the truck, Thomas sped down a one-way street before police were able to surround him at an intersection, according to court records.
He jumped from the Range Rover and ran. Officers caught up, tackled him, and forced him to the ground. During the pursuit, a K9 in one of the vehicles was severely hurt, suffering internal injuries so grave he was eventually put down, prosecutors said.
Thomas, with two prior convictions for bank jobs, told police he had robbed the Jenkintown branch because he needed money to pay his bills.
He also admitted to five other robberies hit during a three year span: the TD Bank on City Ave., Aug. 8, 2012 and May 17, 2011; the TD Bank on Moreland Road in Abington Twp. and the TD Bank on Grant Ave. on Sept. 17, 2009; and the TD Bank on Old York Rd. in Abington July 24, 2009.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 12 before the U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel.
Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.