Oakdale bank robbed, police searching for suspect

Oakdale police are searching for a parolee who goes by the nickname “Bandit” in connection to a robbery Thursday at Valley First Credit Union.

According to police, the branch at 126 W. F St. in Oakdale was robbed shortly after 12:30 p.m. Police had surveillance footage of what they described as a Latino man in his 20s, who was wearing a gray jacket.

Subsequent investigation led police to believe the suspect to be 30-year-old Michael Anthony Ruelas, known as “Bandit.” A press release said he has brown hair and brown eyes, stands 5-foot-5-inches tall and weighs 172 pounds. He has multiple tattoos, including one of musical notes behind his left ear.

Ruelas is a parolee and currently wanted for a parole violation and robbery. Police said he is reportedly transient and frequents the Modesto, Ceres and Turlock areas. He is associated with a white Mercedes-Benz E320 sedan, California license plate number 5VOW698.

According to police, Ruelas approached a teller and presented a note demanding money. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and was seen running south. A short time later, the same man may have been spotted northwest of the bank, in the Poplar Street area.

Anyone who sees Ruelas or has information on the robbery is asked to call Oakdale police at 209-847-2231 or Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636.

Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.