UPDATE: Mount Horeb Woman Charged with Aiding and Abetting Bank Robberies

UPDATED Wednesday, August 22, 2012 --- 1:14 p.m.

Press Release from the U.S. Department of Justice:

Tara Thousand, 25, Mount Horeb, Wis., is charged with aiding and abetting another person in five bank robberies. The indictment alleges that she aided and abetted the following robberies:

1. Associated Bank, 2420 Allen Boulevard, Middleton, Wis., on May 9, 2012;
2. Associated Bank, 1574 West Broadway, Madison, Wis., on May 14, 2012;
3. Anchor Bank, 2215 Holiday Drive, Janesville, Wis., on May 19, 2012;
4. M&I Bank, 7801 Mineral Point Road, Madison, on May 23, 2012; and
5. Anchor Bank, 333 South Westfield Road, Madison, on June 6, 2012.

If convicted, Thousand faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each charge. The charges against her are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Madison, Middleton, Janesville, and Mount Horeb Police Departments. The prosecution of this case has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke.


UPDATED Monday, July 30, 2012 --- 2:40 p.m.

Bank robbery suspect Michael Benike has died after after hanging himself in the Dane County Jail.

Here is information from the Dane County Sheriff's Office:

July 30, 2012 – The 28-year-old man who was transported to a local hospital from the Dane County Jail on the morning of July 27th has died. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Saturday afternoon, July 28th.

The Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office is performing an autopsy today and any further information on the man’s identity and cause of death will be released by the Medical Examiner.

As standard policy in such an incident, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections Jail Inspector continue to investigate the circumstances leading up to his death.


UPDATED Friday, July 27, 2012 --- 5:00 p.m.

According to U.S. District Court release order:

On July 27, 2012, the Marshals Service reported that defendant Michael Benike hanged himself at the Dane County Jail early this morning.

He is on life support at a local hospital and is not expected to survive the day.

Family members cannot be in the room with Benike while he is under a detention order.

At a telephonic conference call this morning, the government and Benike's attorney jointly asked the court to rescind Benike's detention order. Pretrial services called the court to join this request. The court agrees. No conditions of pretrial release are necessary or will be imposed at this time.

Accordingly, it is ordered that defendant Michael Benike forthwith is released from pretrial detention.


UPDATED Friday, July 13, 2012 --- 4:15 p.m.

Click on the link above to read the criminal complaint.

The man wanted for series of bank robberies in our area is in custody.

He's identified as Michael Benike, 29-years-old from Madison.

Also in custody: Tara Thousand, 25-years-old.

According to the complaint: Police were able to determine that Thousand's cellular telephone was used around eight banks at the time of each robbery. And Benike's cell was used around two banks at the time of those robberies.

From the complaint: Thousand provided a statement in which she admitted involvement in nine bank robberies, including the eight bank robberies occurring in 2012. Thousand also stated that her boyfriend,. Michael Benike, was the person who entered each of the banks to commit to the robberies. Thousand explained that she and Benike would drive around and look at banks to determine which banks were close to a major road allowing a quick getaway. Thousand also explained that, prior to the robberies, they would remove the front license plate and bend the rear license plate up so that it could not be seen.

Thousand told investigators she and Benike are heroin addicts; they used the money to purchase heroin.


UPDATED Friday, July 13, 2012 --- 3:50 p.m.

Press Release:

Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Michael Benike, 29, of Madison, Wis., and Tara Thousand, 25, of Mt. Horeb, Wis., have been charged with six counts of bank robbery.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Madison earlier today, Benike and Thousand were charged with robbing six different banks in Madison, Middleton, and Janesville, Wis., between March and June of 2012.

The complaint also alleges involvement in three additional bank robberies, two of which occurred outside the Western District of Wisconsin in Rockford, Ill., and Dubuque, Iowa.

The defendants were arrested earlier today in Madison and Mt. Horeb, by FBI agents, and officers of the Madison and Mt. Horeb Police Departments.

In an initial appearance in federal court in Madison today, both Benike and Thousand were ordered detained pending trial.

They will appear in federal court next on July 19, at 3:30 p.m.

Each count of bank robbery carries a penalty of up to twenty years in prison.

The charges against Benike and Thousand are the result of a cooperative investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Madison, Middleton, Janesville, and Mt. Horeb Police Departments.


UPDATED Wednesday, June 20, 2012 --- 3:05 p.m.

Press Release from the FBI:

The FBI Milwaukee Division is seeking the public’s help in identifying a serial robbery suspect in Wisconsin. He is believed to be responsible for 10 bank robberies:

-September 19, 2011, Associated Bank, 2410 Allen Blvd, Middleton, WI
-October 19, 2011, US Bank, 3500 Dodge Street, Dubuque, IA

-May 9, 2012, Associated Bank, 2410 Allen Blvd, Middleton, WI

-May 14, 2012, Associated Bank, 1574 Broadway Ave, Madison, WI

-May 19, 2012, Anchor Bank, 2215 Holiday Drive, Janesville, WI

-May 23, 2012, M&I Bank, 7801 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI

-May 26, 2012, Fifth Third Bank, 3154 MacFarland Rd, Rockford, IL

-May 29, 2012, DB&T Bank, 555 John F. Kennedy Rd, Dubuque, IA

-June 6, 2012, Anchor Bank, 333 S. Westfield Rd, Madison, WI

-June 8, 2012, Home Savings, 7701 Mineral Point Rd, Madison, WI

The suspect is described as a white male, 5’8’’ to 5’10’’, slender build, and light brown hair, in his late 20's to early 30's. During the robberies, the man walked into the banks wearing a baseball cap and sun glasses, handed a note to a teller that demanded cash, indicating that he had a weapon. The suspect may be driving a 2003 to 2008, Silver Toyota Corolla with a sunroof. Anyone with information about either of the above suspects is urged to call the FBI Milwaukee Division at 414-276-4684. There is a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of either of the suspects.


Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 --- 2:30 p.m.

Press Release:

(MADISON) – A joint reward of up to $7,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for recent Madison and Middleton area bank robberies is being offered by the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) with the help of Anchor Bank and M&I, a part of the BMO Financial Group.

“This reward is offered to provide another tool for law enforcement in apprehending and convicting the person(s) involved in these crimes. Bank robbers are dangerous individuals who put the public and bank employees at risk,” explained WBA president/CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “WBA and its members are committed to bringing these individuals to justice and sending the message that robberies are not going to be tolerated.”

Police have issued a description of a person allegedly involved in these robberies. He is described as a Caucasian male with a slender build in his late 20s, approximately 5’10”, and wearing a hat and sunglasses.

This person was observed in the bank robberies occurring at the following times and locations:

Sept. 19, 2011 at the Associated Bank located at 2400 Allen Blvd.

May 9, 2012 at the Associated Bank located at 2400 Allen Blvd.

May 14, 2012 at the Associated Bank located at 1574 West Broadway.

May 19, 2012 at the Anchor Bank located at 2215 Holiday Dr, Janesville.

May 23, 2012 at the M&I bank located at 7801 Mineral Point Rd.

May 26, 2012 at the Fifth Third bank located at 3154 McFarland, Rockford, IL.

June 6, 2012 at the Anchor Bank located at 333 S. Westfield Rd.

June 8, 2012 at the Home Savings Bank located at 7701 Mineral Point Rd.

The individual typically enters the bank and passes a note to the teller indicating that he has a weapon. He has been seen leaving in a silver Toyota Corolla.

This fund is operated by the Wisconsin Bankers Association. If you have any information about this case or can identify this suspect, please contact Madison area Crime Stoppers on the web at TipSubmit.com or call at 608-266-6014.

The WBA has had a robbery reward program since the 1930s; at one point even donating “tommy guns” to local law enforcement to combat bank robberies. The Robbery Reward Fund provides rewards through law enforcement to individuals who identify anyone wanted in connection with a bank robbery or other crime committed at a bank location, including automated teller machine (ATM) sites if that information leads to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the crime.

The WBA reminds would-be criminals that it is a federal crime to rob a federally insured depository institution and that the majority of bank robbers are caught.

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