'Bandit' suspect in 6 bank robberies, including Modesto, is arrested

The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)August 24, 2013 

Police say they have arrested a female suspect nicknamed the 'Central Coast Bandit' in connection with six bank robberies, including one at a Farmers and Merchants Bank in Modesto on July 18, 2013.


— Police have arrested a woman who they think is the Central Coast Bandit, a serial bank robber believed to be responsible for six bank robberies, including one in Modesto, since December.

According to Lt. Bill Proll of the San Luis Obispo Police Department, a woman who fit the description of the Central Coast Bandit entered the Golden 1 Credit Union on Foothill Boulevard late Friday afternoon.

"Alert employees recognized her and called the police," he said. "She fled, and the employees got a vehicle description."

The suspect headed north on Highway 101, and San Luis Obispo police initially gave chase but later called off the pursuit. They alerted police in the North County.

Taken into custody after crash

Atascadero police spotted the vehicle, and officers from that agency and the CHP gave chase. The car crashed in Paso Robles, and the woman was taken into custody, Proll said.

Because the woman is a suspect in multiple bank robberies, the FBI is handling the investigation. No other information was available Friday night.

The Central Coast Bandit is described as an overweight Latino or white woman in her 30s or 40s.

She is suspected in a string of robberies from Dec. 31 to Aug. 14 in Pacific Grove, Atascadero, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Modesto and Pismo Beach. The Farmers & Merchants Bank robbery in Modesto was in July.

Surveillance footage shows the woman cheerfully walking into the banks wearing an assortment of hats, handbags and nondescript T-shirts. She presents tellers with notes that contain a demand for money and a threat of harm to everyone present in the bank. During her first robbery on Dec. 31, the Central Coast Bandit displayed a handgun to the teller. In subsequent robberies, she has not displayed the handgun, according to FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie.

Before the latest incident, there had been 10 bank robberies in San Luis Obispo County this year. Last year, there were three.

The Modesto Bee contributed to this report.

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