Tampa, Florida - James Bruce was terrified of losing his South Tampa home. The 73-year-old and his wife have been living in the same house on West Vasconia for 20 years.
Detectives say Bruce had never been late with a mortgage payment. But times were tough for the elderly man and his wife, sources say.
Bruce's retirement had run out, and even though he was collecting Social Security, it wasn't enough.
That's when he decided to start robbing banks, Tampa Police say.
Detective Rachel Cholnik with the Tampa Police Department has been investigating the case. "I think he was embarrassed about the situation he was in. I think he really thought that no one would find out," she told 10 Connects.
But they did. Bruce was arrested Thursday morning at the pottery business he and his wife own on West Shore Boulevard called "Something Different."
The arrest officially ends a month-long investigation involving Bruce and various South Tampa banks he was hitting, according to detectives.
The case began on January 15 at a Bank of America on the corner of Gandy and Manhattan. The next one happened on February 1 at a SunTrust Bank on MacDill Avenue. The final one occurred Wednesday afternoon at the Bank of America near West Shore Mall.
Each time, the cameras were rolling. Those images were released to the media, and ultimately, tips from the public to both the Tampa Police Department and Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay led to Bruce's arrest.
"They were having some tough times financially, and his retirement ran out. He gets Social Security, and the money just isn't enough," Detective Cholnik told us.
During an interview on Thursday morning, Bruce admitted to detectives that he was heartbroken about telling his wife what happened and that he was too embarrassed to tell his adult children.
Detective Cholnik says, "Although he knew it was a robbery, he felt like he was going to be able to get back on track and had a plan to pay this money back."
Each time Bruce would rob a bank, cops say, he would casually walk in and pass a note to the teller, asking for a specific amount of money.
He would write the note on a deposit slip, and each time he would get away.
According to property records, Bruce's home is assessed at $177,078.
One neighbor who asked not to be identified told us, "He was asking for money. Ten dollars here, 10 dollars there. He said it was for his wife, and that his business was in trouble."
However, neighbors aren't so sure what is going on with Bruce and his finances.
They say they are worried about him.
Detectives feel bad for Bruce, but they say that, ultimately, he is seen on tape at a teller's window allegedly robbing a bank, and that cannot be overlooked.
"You know, you do feel bad. You feel bad that someone your grandfather's age, a little old man driven to dire circumstances, but you can't, you know, resort to robbing banks to keep mortgage current," Detective Chonik says.
Bruce does not have a past criminal record.
Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects