Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Cops: Banks robbed to feed drug habits

Council briefed on suspects

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two pairs of Cincinnati bank robbers now are linked to as many as 30 heists, according to police, who say the motive was drugs.

        Police Chief Tom Streicher told City Council's law committee Tuesday that the department is working more closely with the FBI and with local banks to curb the increasing number of heists. And he gave them what he said were the latest examples of how desperate drug-addicted robbers can get:

        • Kelvin Smith was arrested after a Carthage robbery Fridayand is now a suspect in a dozen others, maybe more.

        “He has a tremendous, tremendous addiction,” the chief said. “He mixes cocaine with heroin.”

        Police are still looking for a man they say worked with Mr. Smith, someone called “E.”

        • Another pair of robbery suspects has been linked to drugs — Derwin Gadson, indicted in six robberies, and his brother, David, accused of helping his brother with one of them.

        They, too, have told police that they stole to feed their drug habits, said Capt. Vince Demasi, commander of the police department's criminal investigations unit.

        Police suspect them in as many as nine more hits, Capt. Demasi said.

        Eight banks have been robbed in the city so far this year. Police have made arrests in seven of them.

        Councilman Chris Monzel had suggested a task force be formed to curb the increasing robberies. But police say they already have beefed up their relationship with the FBI and started working with banks' security personnel.

        Capt. Demasi said they are trying to persuade bank personnel to slip dye packs into stolen money more often, pay closer attention to how their security cameras are positioned and make sure the videotapes are changed regularly.

        The police, with the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and FBI, are holding safety awareness seminars Feb. 19 for bank managers, tellers and security personnel.

        For information, call 579-3111 or go online at


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