Rookie Cop Charged In $113,000 Bank Heist

In this photo released by the Muhlenberg Township Police Department, shown is an undetermined amount of money recovered from the vehicle of Christian Torres. Torres, 21, a New York Police Department transit officer, was arrested for allegedly robbing a Sovereign Bank in Reading, Pa., on Thursday, April 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Muhlenberg Township Police)
AP/Muhlenberg Township Police
A New York City police officer made off with $113,000 in an armed bank heist Thursday but was arrested a few blocks away, police in northeast Pennsylvania said.

Rookie officer Christian Torres, 21, had his New York Police Department badge and identification card on him when he was arrested, Muhlenberg Township police said. A bag of cash was found on the front seat of his car, they said.

Torres was off work Thursday and used a personal handgun in the crime, according to police in the township, that is about 120 miles from New York City. He confronted a Sovereign Bank employee as she opened up the branch at about 8 a.m., the FBI said.

He forced bank employees to take him to the vault, then stuffed large bills in a white shopping bag and fled in the car, officials said.

Torres was pulled over after bank employees pointed out his vehicle to police responding to a silent alarm. He had a gun in his waistband when he was arrested, police said.

Torres, who lives in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, was charged with robbery, assault, a weapons count and other charges and sent to the Berks County Prison, with bail set at $500,000 bail.

"I can't believe it happened," Torres' neighbor, Chris Salcedo, told the New York Daily News. "He talked a lot about being a cop. He said he wanted to do good stuff for people."

District Justice Dean R. Patton said, "He was not any different from anyone else I arraign. He was respectful, though."

Torres invoked his Fifth Amendment right and did not give a statement to police, according to Officer Joel Marino, a Muhlenberg Township police spokesman.

"He wasn't talking," Marino said.

A defense lawyer contacted police on Torres' behalf, but the lawyer's name was not immediately available, he said.

Torres joined the transit division in January after starting at the police academy in July, the New York Police Department confirmed. Department officials otherwise declined comment.

Township police said they did not know of any connections Torres had to the area, and they said he had stayed at a nearby motel.

No one was injured in the robbery.