An Arlington bank teller who first appeared to be a victim in a high-dollar robbery is accused of orchestrating the crime from the inside, even sending the accused bandit text messages telling him not to forget his sunglasses and warning about a co-worker who "screams at scary movies."
On Sept. 1, a robber hid in the bathroom at Texas Trust Credit Union on East Pioneer Parkway in Arlington, the FBI said. He then emerged after closing time, confronted startled employees and forced them into a vault loaded with cash.
According to court documents, he ran out with $183,000, considerably more than typical bank heists.
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Just four hours later, police in Fort Worth stopped Tyce Von Franklin for going 54 mph in a 40-mph zone. Officers then arrested him after discovering marijuana in his car, a large amount of cash, a gun and a surgical mask.
In his mugshot, he appeared to be wearing the same black t-shirt he wore in the bank robbery, the FBI said.
But the investigation was hardly over.
The FBI suspected Franklin had help -- on the inside.
Bank teller Kyle Lightner, who was working at the time of the robbery, appeared at first to be a victim. But investigators became suspicious because he had stayed at the bank past his normal shift and surveillance video showed he was sending text messages shortly before the robbery happened.
A search of his cell phone found he was texting Franklin, the FBI said.
"Don't forget yo sunglasses," court documents quoted Lightner as texting Franklin.
Franklin responded: "Alrite."
Surveillance photos show the robber was wearing sunglasses.
Later, they talk in code, the FBI said in a criminal complaint against the two.
"Mom just got home," Lightner texted.
Agents said he appeared to refer to an off-duty officer who had arrived to work at the bank.
"So turn around?" Franklin asked.
"No...hurry," the teller responded.
Lightner also appeared to give Franklin a refresher on the layout of the bank and where the drive-through area was located.
“Just in case u don’t remember, just go in the front and walk straight…then u will see this hallway and my closet will be to the left,” Lightner is quoted as texting.
In another message, the FBI said Lightner warned about a co-worker who "screams at scary movies, so be calm."
The FBI is investigating whether Lightner and Franklin may have been involved in a previous, unsolved bank robbery in which an unusually large amount of money also was taken.
It happened at a Compass Bank where Lightner was also a teller, but the court documents do not provide a date.
In that case, Lightner appeared to be taken hostage and forced into a vault -- by a man matching Franklin’s description, agents said. Court documents reveal $148,794 was taken in that robbery.
“Due to the similarities, we’re looking to determine if there’s a connection,” said FBI Special Agent Mark White in Dallas.
He said it’s rare for tellers to be involved in robberies.
“It’s not that it never happens,” White said. “It’s just very uncommon.”