FBI stakeout snares serial bank robber in the Loop, feds say

Kurtis Krotser (left) is responsible for five bank robberies since late June, the FBI says. | IDOC; FBI

A nine-time convicted felon who’s on parole is in federal custody, accused by the FBI of being responsible for five bank robberies in Chicagoland since June 25th.

Federal authorities have charged 51-year-old Kurtis Krotser with one robbery so far, the June 26th hold-up of Citibank, 180 North Michigan Avenue.

Krotser was arrested on July 5th after he allegedly tried to rob the same bank again. A federal task force had set up surveillance of banks throughout the downtown area that day, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Krotser was taken into custody so quickly, bank employees didn’t even have a chance to trigger their silent alarm, according to police.

Investigators at the scene of the arrest quickly identified him as the serial bandit by rolling up his sleeve to check for a distinctive barbed wire tattoo on his right bicep, according to court records.

A Chicago police officer assigned to the FBI’s task force said in an affidavit that Krotser entered the Citibank location at 2:13 p.m. on June 26th and handed a note to a teller:

“THis is A Robbery. I HAve A GUN – I Wiil Kill you give Me CASh.”

The robber repeatedly threatened to shoot the teller and demanded that the banker hurry,  the officer wrote. Krotser allegedly made off with $1,443.

According to a federal complaint, the FBI believes Krotser is also responsible for robbing the U.S. Bank at 2263 South Wentworth on June 25; a First Midwest Bank in Hammond, Indiana, on June 28th; the Burling Bank at 141 West Jackson on July 2nd; and a First Midwest Bank branch in Lansing, Illinois, on July 3rd.

Two days later, FBI task force members set up a covert surveillance operation of banks throughout the downtown area in anticipation of another hold-up.

Task force members suspected that Krotser was the serial robber when they saw him walk into the Citibank at 180 North Michigan around 2 p.m. Krotser left the bank soon after he walked in and when task force members entered the branch seconds later, no employees were in sight.

“I then announced my presence as a police officer, at which point a bank employee advised that an individual just attempted to rob the bank,” an officer wrote in court filings. “I then advised the other members of the [task force] to place the individual into custody.”

Krotser admitted to robbing the Citibank on June 26th and identified himself as the person seen in surveillance photos, according to police.

State records show that Krotser was paroled on Dec. 6th after serving time for aggravated DUI. He has been in and out of prison repeatedly for the past 25 years.

His first trip to prison was a four-year sentence for theft and burglary in 1994. He was released early, committed a burglary while on parole, and received a six-year sentence for that crime in 1996.

Three years later, he was released early and was convicted of another burglary while on parole. He received another six-year sentence.

Authorities released him early from prison and he was convicted of another burglary while on parole in 2001. He received a seven-year sentence.

But he was released three years later and was convicted of retail theft while on parole. He got a two-year sentence, was released one year later, and was almost immediately arrested for burglary while on parole. He got a ten-year sentence that time.

The state released him five years later and was again convicted of burglary while on parole. Sentence this time? Seven years.

Of course, he was released less than four years later and quickly plead guilty to possessing a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated DUI while on parole. He was given a seven-year sentence on the stolen vehicle charge and a concurrent three years for DUI.  He was released in December after serving half of those sentences and now, obviously, is charged with robbing a bank.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com