PD: Man sets fire to cars in Surprise parking lot as diversion for bank robbery

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Posted at 11:33 AM, Jan 21, 2020

SURPRISE, AZ — A man has been arrested, accused of setting fire to two cars in a Surprise business parking lot, then robbing a bank in the same area.

Surprise police report that on January 10 they received calls regarding two arson fires of cars and a bank robbery all within ten minutes and all in the same location, near Litchfield and Bell roads.

Police say a man, later identified as Israel Andrew Diaz, 28, handed a note to a bank teller demanding $2,500 and advising the teller that they were being watched. The teller reportedly put money into a money counter while hitting the panic alarm. The money counter jammed, so the teller gave him what had been counted so far.

Diaz allegedly fled in a light blue van. In the surveillance video, police also saw a circular tattoo on the suspect’s hand.

The surveillance video also reportedly shows the same blue van next to one of the cars that were set on fire.

Police sent out a bulletin to the public with suspect and tattoo photos. Police say numerous tips came in identifying the suspect as Diaz.

Police located the van at a home in El Mirage, and El Mirage police arrested Diaz. According to court records, Diaz was found with a loaded handgun and meth in his jacket pocket.

Upon his arrest, Diaz allegedly admitted to the bank robbery and the arsons, saying he used them as a diversion, starting the fires with magazines, alcohol, and a torch. Diaz reportedly hid the money in cut-outs he made in the drywall of his apartment. He allegedly told police that he had recently lost his job and was being evicted.

He also said he burned the clothes he was wearing during the robbery in his backyard BBQ.

He has been charged with arson, robbery, and weapons violations.