Couple charged in Jacksonville bank robberies

Duo arrested after officer spots suspected getaway car, JSO says

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Cole Pepper - Sports anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A duo who police call "serial armed bank robbery suspects" were arrested Wednesday after a sharp-eyed officer recognized a suspected getaway car from previous heists, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. 

Police said they believe Connor Preston, 29, and Lindsey Marie Leonard, 26, could be responsible for four robberies in the last month in the Jacksonville area. The man's uncle said the two are a couple.

According to an arrest report, an officer was parked on I-95 south of a Main Street Bridge when a green Honda that had been noted in several bank robberies went past him. He followed it as it went west on I-10 and pulled alongside it at one point, noting the driver matched the description of the man who police said had just robbed the Fifth Third Bank. 

The officer conducted the traffic stop on Forbes Street in Riverside. The arrest report said Preston and Leonard still had more than $1,000 in the car from the Fifth Third Bank robbery.

Leonard confessed, implicated Preston, and then demanded a lawyer, according to the arrest report.

Both were arrested on two counts of armed robbery in the holdups of Fifth Third Bank on Beach Boulevard on Wednesday and a Westside Regions Bank on Feb. 9. 

Hours later, Preston was charged in the other two robberies -- the one at the TD Bank on San Juan Avenue on Jan. 31 and the one at the Wells Fargo on Blanding Boulevard on Feb. 15.

Preston's uncle told News4Jax that he had just sold the green car to his nephew days ago. The uncle said the arrests were hard for him to comprehend, adding that he thought his nephew was trying to turn his life around. 

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda sent a message to the people of Jacksonville after the arrests.

"Just because you're not the person going inside committing the bank robbery, if you're driving and you have knowledge that is occurring, you get charged with the same exact charges," Bujeda said. 

There have been six bank robberies in Jacksonville so far this year, five of which have already been solved by police. 

According to News4Jax records, there were 15 bank robberies in 2017 and JSO cleared six of those. In two of those cases, the suspects were killed in police confrontations. One suspect was wounded by police and committed suicide. The other was killed in a shootout in which an officer was wounded.

In 2016, JSO cleared three of 12 robberies. The year before that, there were 17 robberies, eight of which were cleared by JSO.

Preston and Leonard were booked into the Duval County jail. Preston was being held without bond and  Leonard was ordered held on $200,000 bond.

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