One of the more unsettling trends of 2018 was the fact that bank robberies - a total of five in Pueblo West - were on the rise.

Luckily none of the robberies led to physical injuries and four suspects linked with the bank robberies all eventually were captured.

“That is a lot of bank robberies and all were solved so that was huge,” said Law Enforcement Bureau Chief David Lucero of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s department.

The most prolific of the alleged bank robbers - Chad Ray Hovet, 35, of Pueblo West - was linked with three bank robberies here. Hovet allegedly robbed the Bank of San Juans, TBK Bank and ENT Federal Credit Union between March 29 and May 24.

In each of the robberies, the suspect was described as a white male with slender build. He was reportedly wearing a dark green coat and had either a mask or bandana over his face and wore sunglasses.

“When they cover their faces it makes it hard to get an ID,” Lucero said.

The weapon used in each of the robberies was reportedly the same type of handgun and the suspect ordered the tellers at all the banks to put the money in the same type of bag.

“Unless you’ve had a gun pointed at you, you have no idea what it is like - it can be very traumatic for the tellers. Facing an armed gunman is so unsettling- it is not good,” Lucero explained.

Officers with the Pueblo County Sheriff’s department were able to arrest Hovet after an astute Detective Charles Roldan, working an unrelated investigation in the 100 block of S. Trevino Drive, spotted two vehicles linked to the bank robberies. A search warrant executed at the Trevino property reportedly resulted in evidence being confiscated and Hovet was arrested Oct. 11.

“Roldan did a great job and was being observant. It was a true team effort - we had detectives in unmarked vehicles on a number of missions,” Lucero explained.

“I commend my deputies for their hard work and dedication in continuing to pursue this very dangerous individual,” Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said after Hovet’s arrest. “Citizens can rest a little easier knowing this person who was terrorizing our community has been taken off the streets.”

Two other Pueblo West bank robberies occurred this year and three suspects linked with them have been arrested. Alejandro Saiz, 19, allegedly robbed the US Bank branch inside the Safeway store at 1017 North Market Plaza in Pueblo West on March 19. Saiz was arrested April 19 after he allegedly robbed the Power Credit Union in Pueblo.

He also is a suspect in a March 31 bank robbery at Academy Bank in Pueblo.

The US Bank branch was robbed a second time on Nov. 16. The two suspects in that robbery - Patrick James Byrom, 36, and Kortny Nicole Payne, 40 - were arrested three days later just west of Wichita Falls Texas after they led Texas authorities on a high-speed chase that covered 14 miles.

Wichita County Sheriff’s Deputies eventually stopped the vehicle using stop sticks and a Pursuit Intervention Technique.

In that robbery, Byrom gave the teller a note that stated he had a gun and demanded money. Payne was seen on surveillance video standing behind Byrom at the counter.

The two left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. No weapon was seen, and no one was injured.

Following that arrest Taylor credited citizen tips with helping to identify the two suspects after images from bank surveillance video were shared by the sheriff’s department.

“The public was great,” Lucero said. “We were happy to be able to solve these cases and call the banks and let them know so those employees could have peace of mind.”

tharmon@chieftain.com