Man arrested in string of 12 Ariz. bank robberies

An unemployed man accused of holding up 12 banks in the metropolitan Phoenix area told authorities that he drank alcohol before each holdup to work up his courage, saying: "I rob to survive."

Cristian Alfredo Urquijo was arrested on 16 counts of armed robbery and using a firearm while committing a crime, authorities said Tuesday. He was indicted Thursday in the alleged spree over a 10-month period.

His Phoenix-based attorney, Candace Hewitt Kent, did not immediately return a call.

In a criminal complaint written last month, FBI Special Agent Geoffrey Young said Urquijo admitted to the robberies and said he drank alcohol before each of them.

He said he had been laid off from his job, according to the complaint.

Investigators linked the robberies based on the method of operation and the robber's physical appearance. They all occurred in the Phoenix suburbs of Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale between September 2010 and last month.

Young wrote that the suspect carried a black binder during each of the robberies, approached tellers with a note and demanded money. Sometimes a black gun could be seen inside the binder, the complaint said.

The break in the case came after the most recent robbery in Gilbert on July 20, when bank employees followed the suspect outside while calling 911.

Gilbert police officers pulled over a vehicle being driven by Urquijo. Officers found an unloaded black gun, a note demanding money in Urquijo's pockets, and a black binder stuffed with cash in the car.

Urquijo was scheduled to enter a plea on Aug. 31.