A man who previously has served two stints in federal prison for Chicago-area bank robberies has been charged in another heist and is suspected in four others and an attempted robbery in the last month.
Sharkey Elam, 67, was arrested Thursday after a GPS tracker in $80 he robbed from a First American Bank branch, 33 W. Monroe St., pinpointed his location at 1800 S. Canal St. and police caught up with him soon after the 2:35 p.m. robbery, according to police and federal complaint against him. Elam, of the 6100 block of South Michigan Avenue, previously had robbed the same bank of about $957 on Dec. 26, according to the complaint.
Police on Thursday stopped traffic on the block while they searched for him and he was arrested about 20 minutes after the robbery, police said.
Elam is believed to have tried to rob a bank at 1525 N. Wells St. not long before the robbery Thursday afternoon, but failed, according to the FBI.
Elam appeared today in a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason and was ordered held pending his next court appearance, FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said in a release.
Elam is suspected in a total of five bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery dating to Dec. 5, according to the complaint against him. In each of the robberies, an older man went into a bank, went up to a teller, and implied he had a gun in a newspaper or a plastic bag, then demanded money.
Before Thursday, Elam’s most recent robbery was believed to be of a Bank of America Branch at 2401 N. Clark St. on Jan. 5. The FBI was able to identify Elam as a suspect in the series of robberies on Wednesday, when Elam’s probation officer looked at still photographs.
He also is suspected of robbing the Citibank at 111 W. Jackson Blvd. on Dec. 19, the Citibank at 539 N. Michigan Ave. on Dec. 17 and the Burling Bank at 141 W. Jackson Blvd. on Dec. 5.
When interviewed by an FBI agent investigating the robberies, Elam admitted to committing the robberies, according to the federal complaint.
In 1997, Elam pleaded guilty to a two-week robbery spree in which he robbed a Loop candy shop of $210 and four banks of a total of $21,500 between July 19 and July 31, 1997. At the time, he was a fugitive after having escaped from the Salvation Army’s West Side community center while he was finishing a 4-year prison term for five bank robberies following a 1993 conviction.
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