FBI: ‘AK-47 Bandit’ strikes again, this time in Iowa

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IOWA >> A heavily-armed serial bank robber known as the “AK-47 Bandit,” who shot and wounded a Chino police officer during a bank robbery three years ago at the outset of a nationwide crime spree, struck again Tuesday in Iowa, according to the FBI.
The bandit showed up at the Heartland Community Credit Union in Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday morning, armed with his usual AK-47-style rifle fitted with a large-capacity drum magazine, FBI officials said in a written statement.
EP-140909961“ Based on witness descriptions, surveillance photos and other indicators, agents and detectives jointly investigating this case in multiple jurisdictions (and) states believe the Mason City suspect is the same individual linked to the violent series of bank robberies attributed to the ‘AK-47 Bandit,’ which brings the total number of linked robberies to seven,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The spree of bank heists began on Feb. 29, 2012, when the bandit robbed the California Bank and Trust, 5455 Riverside Drive, and shot a Chino police officer while making his getaway.
Robberies and attempted robberies throughout California and the nation have since been linked to the bank robbery.
He’s believed to be responsible for crimes in Chino, Vacaville, Sacramento, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, and now Iowa, according to the FBI.
$100,000 in reward money has been offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of the AK-47 bandit. The FBI has offered $75,000 in reward money, Eimileer said, while other parties have added an additional $25,000.
Officials have described the robber as a white in his 20s to 40s, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, of medium build, woith possibly blue eyes. He generally wears a black ski mask and gloves and carries the assault rifle which gave him his moniker.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI in Los Angeles at 310-477-6565.

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‘Bluto Bandit’ sought for bank robberies in L.A., San Bernardino counties

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The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a fake beard-clad serial bank robber dubbed “The Bluto Bandit” who has robbed or been spotted at six banks throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties over the past week.
The bandit has robbed Chase bank branches in Pasadena, Duarte and Ontario, and has been seen “casing” other branches in Monrovia, Chino and Fontana, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
In each case, the bandit wore a thick, black, curly fake beard, prompting investigators to nickname him the Bluto Bandit, inspired by the bearded villain in the Bluto“Popeye” comic strip, Eimiller said.
He robbed a Chase bank at 3870 Foothill Boulevard in an unincorporated county area near Pasadena about 2:35 p.m. Tuesday, then robbed another Chase bank at 1000 Huntington Drive in Duarte about half an hour later, Eimiller said. The robber was also seen casing a Monrovia bank in between the two robbers, as well as a Fontana bank later in the afternoon.
In the Pasadena and Monrovia heists, the robber quietly approached tellers and handed over notes demanding cash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said.
“He didn’t really even speak,” the lieutenant said.
But the serial bandit’s crime spree began June 10, when he robbed a Chase bank 0619_NWS_SGT-L-BLUTO2cropat 1070 N. Mountain Avenue in Ontario, according to the FBI. He was spotted casing a Chino Chase bank two days later.
Investigators described the robber as a Latino man, 28 to 30 years old, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 195 pounds. In all of the crimes, he wore his fake beard and a blue, long-sleeve Pendleton-style shirt.
He’s been spotted getting into a white, newer-model Volkswagen Jetta with tinted windows and final three license plate digits of “665.”
No weapon has been seen during the crimes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI Los Angeles Office at 310-477-6565.

PHOTOS from robberies in Duarte (above) and unincorporated Pasadena (below) courtesy of the FBI.

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Would-be bank robber flees empty-handed in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA >> A man fled without any money after trying to rob a South Pasadena bank branch Wednesday afternoon, police said.
PSN-L-BANKThe failed robbery took place about 4:30 p.m. at Chase, 1305 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Jim Valencia said.
A would-be robber handed a teller a page-long demand note and briefly stood at the teller’s window, but left without receiving any cash, the sergeant said. He was last seen exiting a west-facing door.
Officers searched the area but did not find the suspect, Valencia said.
The FBI, which investigates bank robberies, was notified of the incident, he added.

PHOTO courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department

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Two sought in San Dimas bank robbery

SAN DIMAS >> Deputies are hunting for two men who robbed a Chase bank branch Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place about 5:30 p.m. at the bank, 1001 Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
One robber entered the bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash as the second robber acted as a lookout, the lieutenant said.
After obtaining cash, both robbers were last seen fleeing from the bank on foot, she added. No injuries were reported.

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Baldwin Park man accused of Pasadena attempted bank robbery

PASADENA >> Police jailed a man Baldwin Park man Tuesday after he abandoned an attempted bank robbery in Pasadena and fled empty-handed, authorities said.
John Raymond Celaya, 55, was arrested in connection with the alleged failed heist and was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The crime took place just after 5:30 p.m. at a Chase branch at Colorado Boulevard and Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena police Lt. Kelly Evans said.
Celaya handed a teller a note demanding cash and stating that he had a gun, Evans said. But he apparently became nervous and fled from the bank without receiving any money.
Officers found Celaya nearby at Central Park and arrested him once he was identified via witnesses and surveillance footage as the suspect.

– Stephanie Baer and Brian Day

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Pico Rivera bank branch robbed


PICO RIVERA >> A man fled with cash after robbing a Whittier Boulevard bank branch Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The bank robbery occurred about 1 p.m. at the Bank of the West, at Whittier and Rosemead boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Chapman said.
A man handed a teller a note demanding money before fleeing with an unknown amount, the sergeant said.
Deputies described the robber as a Latino man of about 40 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and of medium build. He had a salt and pepper mustache and a tattoo on his left neck and shoulder area. He wore a black and blue Yankees cap, sunglasses, a white T-shirt and blue jeans. He was last seen on Rosemead Boulevard on foot.

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Masked gunman rob Pasadena bank

PASADENA >> Two masked, armed men robbed a Pasadena bank branch Friday morning, police said.
The heist occurred about 11 a.m. at OneUnited Bank, 1335 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
“Two male blacks entered the bank wearing ski masks and armed with handguns. They demanded money from the tellers,” the lieutenant said.
After obtaining an unknown amount of cash, the robbers ran from the bank and got into a getaway car with a driver waiting at the wheel, Mercado said. The small, older two-door sedan was last seen driving south on Lake Avenue.
No injuries were reported, Mercado said.
Police described both gunman was black, in their mid-20s, about 6 feet tall, and of thin build. Both wore black ski masks and black gloves. One wore a white hooded sweatshirt and dark-colored pants, while the other wore a black hooded sweatshirt and light-colored pants.
No description of the getaway car was available.

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Man robs Hacienda Heights bank branch

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man fled with an undisclosed amount of cash after robbing a Hacienda Heights bank Saturday, officials said.
The robber showed up about 1:45 p.m. at Chase bank, 17160 Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Boese said.
He handed a female teller a note demanding money, the sergeant said. No weapon was seen.
The robber obtained some cash and fled, Boese said. No getaway car was seen in connection with the crime.
Deputies described the robber as a black man between 25 and 40, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 160 pounds. He wore white sunglasses, a navy blue jumpsuit with writing on it and a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt.

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Serial bank robbery suspect arrested after lengthy chase from Santa Fe Springs to Rialto

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SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man who led police on a wild chase from Santa Fe Springs to Rialto that lasted more than an hour is believed to be a serial bank robbery linked to nine heists and attempted heists in Orange and San Diego counties, authorities said.
Stephen Richard Bartlett, 53, was arrested on suspicion of numerous crimes following the chase, which began about 10:15 a.m. outside a Santa Fe Springs steel business, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Following his arrest, which took place after he crashed a stolen 1-ton utility truck off the side of the 219 Freeway in Rialto, investigators determined that Bartlett is a suspect known to the FBI as the “Hills Bandit,” sought for eight bank robberies and one failed bank robbery since may, Ellis said.
Bartlett was taken to a hospital to be treatment for minor injuries suffered in the crash before being booked on suspicion of felony theft, felony evading, vehicle embezzlement and two counts of hit-and-run, police officials said in a written statement. The parolee, who has an address listed in Nevada, was also being held on several warrants, including ones for bank robbery.
Thursday’s chase began when officers responded to Fry Steel Co., 13325 Molette Street, about 10:15 a.m. after receiving a report of a possible fraud involving the purchase of $12,000 worth of steel by a man later identified as Bartlett.
“As the suspect left the business with the product in the back of a 1-ton stake truck, Whittier Police officers arrived and attempted to make a traffic stop,” according to the police statement. But the truck continued on, and the driver threw what was later found to be a replica handgun from the truck.
The truck led officers through Santa Fe Springs, Whittier, La Habra and Break before getting onto the westbound 60 Freeway, where Whittier police turned the pursuit over to the California Highway Patrol.
The pursuit continued west on the 60 Freeway, with the truck driving erratically and at times on the wrong side of the road as it made its way onto the westbound 210 Freeway.
The fleeing truck collided with a CHP car and a civilian vehicle during the chase, resulting in minor injuries to a CHP officer and a civilian, CHP Officer Bruan Alvarez said in a written statement.
After well over an hour, the truck struck the right shoulder wall along the 210 Freeway in Rialto and went out of control before striking a dirt embankment and overturning, Alvarez said. Bartlett climbed out of the truck and surrendered to officials.
The most recent crimes attributed to the “Hills Bandit” occurred Sept. 8, when he robbed a Laguna Niguel U.S. Bank branch and tried, but failed, to rob a La Jolla Union Bank, according to FBI spokeswoman Emily Yeh.
He previously robbed a San Diego Cal Bank & Trust on Aug. 25; a Laguna Niguel Wells Fargo on Aug. 22; a Laguna Hills U.S. Bank on Aug. 8; a Carlsbad U.S. Bank on Aug. 5; A Lake Forest Citibank on July 25; a Laguna Hills Citibank on July 16; and a Laguna Hills Wells Fargo on May 6, FBI officials said.

*PHOTO: The “Hills Bandit,” is pictured in this surveillance photo during a robbery at a Union Bank in San Diego on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The suspect, linked to nine bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, was arrested Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, after a lengthy police chase that led from Santa Fe Springs to Rialto. (Courtesy of the FBI)

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Norwalk man charged with series of bank robberies in Whittier, South Gate, Norwalk

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Prosecutors Thursday charged a Norwalk man the FBI has dubbed the “Cold Blooded Bandit” in connection with three bank robberies over the past two months in Whittier, South Gate and Norwalk, officials said.
Mario Marques LLanes, 27, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He was charged Thursday with three counts of robbery and three counts of commercial burglary for the alleged spree of bank heists, officials said.
Llanes turned himself in Monday to police in Whittier, where the most recent robbery occurred Sept. 17 at a Union Bank branch inside the Quad at Whittier shopping center, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
The robber handed a teller a note demanding money before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash, Whittier police Cpl. Carlos Arroyo said at the time.
The serial bandit used similar tactics in the other robberies, which occurred July 7 at a Union Bank branch in South Gate and June 30 at a Union Bank branch in Llanes hometown of Norwalk, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The FBI nicknamed the serial bank robbery suspect the “Cold Blooded Bandit” prior to his arrest due to the heavy winter clothes he wore during the summertime robberies.

PHOTO: Mario Marques Llanes, 27, of Norwalk, is accused of being a serial bank robber the FBI has dubbed the “Cold Blooded Bandit,” linked to bank robberies in Whittier, South South Gate and Norwalk since late June. The bandit is pictured in this bank surveillance photo during a robbery at a Union Bank branch in Whittier on Sept. 17, 2014.
(Courtesy of the FBI)

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