Cracking the Case of a Serial Bank Robber

From the Files of the Coral Gables Police

The Coral Gables bank robber was striking at five-day intervals, always in the late afternoon. Detective Sgt. Ted Nguyen noticed the pattern. “I am not an expert in bank robberies,” says the 25-year Gables police veteran. “But he was a serial bank robber… I told the chief I was going to follow up on what I’d noticed.”

And that’s exactly what Nguyen did. On a Tuesday afternoon in late October – five days after a masked man attempted to hold up the HSBC Bank branch at 2222 Ponce de Leon Blvd. – Nguyen enlisted four other officers to set up a perimeter around the city’s downtown banking district. At 3:30 p.m., Nguyen was in an unmarked car, westbound on Alhambra Circle, when he stopped for a red light at Salzedo Street. There he spotted a man in the crosswalk. “I had seen the [bank surveillance] videos, the still pictures. Dark shirt, dark shorts, black sneakers with white soles,” says Nguyen. “I saw his face. Light blue eyes. I was certain this was the guy.”

The suspect walked north on Salzedo. His actions were “furtive,” the detective said. The man entered an alleyway and Nguyen called Det. Jimmy McKee, who was stationed at the end of the alley. “He’s going to walk right into you,” Nguyen told McKee. Nguyen parked and hurried toward the alley. McKee, wearing his tactical vest, saw the suspect duck into a parking garage. The detective ordered him to stop and put his hands up.

McKee and Nguyen took the man – Miami lawyer Aaron Honaker, 41 – into custody without resistance. According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Honaker “had a ball-point hammer tucked in his waistband and carried what appeared to be bank robbery demand notes and instructions on ‘how-to’ commit bank robberies.”

Honaker was charged with committing a series of bank robberies, including four in Coral Gables. Held without bond, he is to be arraigned on Jan. 25.

For his astute sleuthing, Nguyen was named Officer of the Month. “There are movies where a cop picks out a bad guy cruising through the streets,” said Chief Ed Hudak. “This is exactly what happened.” And, as in the movies, the hero responded with modesty. At the award ceremony, Nguyen thanked his team of officers and then added, “Serendipity and Lady Luck came in there.”

Bank Robber arrested - Chief Ed Hudak with detective Sgt. Ted Nguyen
Chief Ed Hudak with detective Sgt. Ted Nguyen