A man in a black baseball cap embarked on a two-county robbery spree in recent weeks, holding up or trying to hold up Citibank branches in Glendora, Arcadia and Placentia in recent weeks, authorities said. Glendora police released surveillance images of the robber Wednesday in hopes of generating tips from the public as to the mystery bandit’s identity. He’s robbed in both Los Angeles and Orange counties.
“We’re hoping someone recognized this person,” Glendora police Detective Russell Ziino said.
The robber first showed up about 4:50 p.m. on Feb. 29 at Citibank, 401 E. Arrow Highway in Glendora, police said.
“(He) handed the teller a demand note that stated he had a gun. No gun was seen,” Glendora police said in a written statement. “The teller handed him an undisclosed amount of money and the suspect left.”
The serial bandit again turned up about 12:40 p.m. on March 4 at a Citibank branch at 1300 N. Kraemer Blvd. in Placentia, police said. He handed a teller a similar note and fled with an undisclosed amount of money. Just over four hours later, the same robber entered a Citibank branch at 100 S. First Ave. in Arcadia and attempted the same type of robbery.
“The teller in this case feared for his life and went to the back of the bank,” according to the police statement. “The suspect left with no cash.”
The notes presented by the robber were scribbled with messages to the effect of: “Don’t talk. I have a gun. Give me the money,” Ziino said. Though he always threatened to be armed, no gun has been seen during the crimes.
The yet-unnamed serial bandit is described as a white man, about 25 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 130 pounds, with green eyes and a scar on his right eyelid.
In all three incidents, he wore a black baseball cap, Ziino added. No getaway car has been linked to the robber. Anyone with information can reach Glendora police at 626-914-8250. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS: [TOP] Authorities seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Glendora on Feb. 29, 2016. [MIDDLE] Authorities are seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Placentia on March 4, 2016. [BELOW] Authorities are seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Arcadia on March 4, 2016. (Courtesy, Glendora Police Department)
ARCADIA >> A man fled with an unknown amount of cash after robbing a bank branch inside of an Arcadia grocery store Wednesday afternoon, police said.
The crime took place about 3:30 p.m. at a U.S. Bank branch inside of a Ralphs grocery store, 1101 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
“A man walked up to the window and presented a demand note to the teller as he verbally demanded money,” according to Lt. Roy Nakamura.
“With the U.S. currency in his hands, the male suspect walked out of the location and away from the area without being seen,” Sgt. Jason Davis said.
The robber was last seen walking south along Sunset Boulevard toward Huntington Drive, Nakamura said.
No weapon was seen during the crime, he added.
Initial radio reports from the scene indicated the suspect claimed to have a bomb, but police Wednesday night would not confirm whether that was the case. It was unclear whether the supermarket was evacuated or closed as a result of the incident.
Police described the robber as a Latino man, approximately 26 to 27 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 200 pounds. He was unshaven and had a mustache and a short goatee, and possible a mole on his right cheek.
The robber wore a black-and-white striped Fedora hat with a black and white band, a dark zippered hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
The FBI is also assisting Arcadia police in the investigation.
ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> An opportunistic robber snatched $1,700 from a bank counter and ran as a woman was making a deposit at a Rowland Heights bank branch Friday, officials said.
The crime took place about 11:40 a.m. at the Bank of America, 1501 Nogales Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joseph Badaly said.
A woman in her 20s was making a deposit when she set the cash on the counter for the teller, he said.
The robber ran from the bank and a fled in a white, newer-model, four-door car, Badaly said. He was described as a black man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall, of medium build.
Deputies were still working to obtain any bank surveillance footage that may help the investigation.
ROSEMEAD >> A man robbed a bank along Valley Boulevard in Rosemead Tuesday, officials said.
The crime took place shortly before 11 a.m. at the Pacific Alliance Bank, 8400 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ernest Bille said.
The lone suspect entered the bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash, the lieutenant said. He motioned as if he had a gun, though none was seen.
After obtaining cash from the teller, the robber fled the bank, Bille said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
No injuries were reported.
Investigators from the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau and crime lab responded to the scene, along with the FBI, Bille said.
TEMPLE CITY >> Three men carried out an armed robbery at a Temple City bank Friday, officials said.
The heist took place about 11:40 a.m. at a Bank of the West branch, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said.
One of the robbers brandished a revolver and pointed it at a teller while demanding money, the lieutenant said. They fled with an undetermined amount of cash.
Deputies described the robbers as three black men. One was in his 30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 185 pounds, wearing blue jeans, a baseball cap and a checkered shirt.
The other two robbers were both of thin build, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing gray hooded sweatshirts, dark pants and bandanas covering their faces.
They were last seen driving south from the bank on Baldwin Avenue in a light gray compact car with faded paint.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A suspect arrested Thursday following a Santa Fe Springs bank robbery is believed to be a serial bandit sought for previous heists in Anaheim and Orange, police said Friday.
Police arrested Ryan Thomas See, 25, of La Palma minutes after Thursday’s 2:50 p.m. robbery at a Chase branch at Telegraph and Carmenita roads in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was taken into custody as he attempted to flee in an Uber car, officials said.
“(See) presented the teller with a demand note, claiming he had a bomb and warned he would detonate it if police or others were alerted,” Whittier police said in a written statement. “The teller complied and handed over nearly $6,000 in cash.”
Officers arrested him around the corner in South Whittier as he attempted to enter a getaway car, later found to be an Uber car he had reserved, occupied by a female driver, police and FBI officials said.
A witness aided in the capture by following the suspect from the bank and reporting his position to police, Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The stolen cash was recovered.
Following his arrest, investigators working with the FBI determined See was the suspected “Windy City Bandit,” sought for bank robberies at Chase banks in Anaheim on Oct. 5 and in Orange on Tuesday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. The FBI gave him the moniker due to a beanie emblazoned with a Chicago Bears logo he wore during the alleged crimes, she said.
See was initially booked on suspicion of bank robbery and making criminal threats at the Whittier Police Department, but was later turned over to federal custody to face federal prosecution, Eimiller said.
Upon being confronted with bank surveillance photos from the previous Orange County robberies, “See stated that he was the person in all three of the bank surveillance photographs,” FBI Agent Steve May wrote in a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court.
See claimed that he committed the robberies because he owed a “Mexican guy” money for drugs, but did not know man’s name, according to the complaint.
The defendant said the unnamed accomplice drove him to the scenes of the first two robberies. See told investigators he took an Uber car to get to the third robbery.
“See stated that he was pressured by the Mexican guy to go to that bank and rob that bank,” May wrote. “See further stated that if See did not do as instructed, the Mexican guy would harm/shoot his family.”
He was ordered held without bail during his initial court appearance Friday, Eimiller said.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police, aided by a good Samaritan, quickly apprehended an alleged bank bandit following a robbery at a Telegraph Road bank branch Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The crime was reported just before 3 p.m. at a Chase bank, 13417 Telegraph Road, near Carmenita Road, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The Whittier Police Department provides police services for Santa Fe Springs.
“The suspect presented a letter to the teller indicating he had a bomb,” Ruiz said.
The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, and the robber fled the bank on foot.
But a witness followed behind the fleeing robber in a car while reporting his position to authorities, officials said.
Whittier police found and arrested the suspect without a struggle minutes later along Parkinson Avenue, just north of Trumball Street, in unincorporated South Whittier, Ruiz said. The money stolen in the bank robbery was recovered.
The name of the suspect, described as a man in his 20s, was not available Thursday evening.
CERRITOS >> Deputies jailed an alleged bandit Friday after he used a fake bomb to rob a Cerritos bank, authorities said.
Deputies first responded about 9:30 a.m. to reports of a robbery at a bank branch in the 11300 block of South Street, Lt. Martin Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau said in a written statement.
“A lone male adult had entered the bank, demanding money, and claimed he had an explosive device on him inside a plastic bag,” Rodriguez said.
The robber obtained a “moderate amount” of cash and left the purported bomb inside the bank near a row of tellers before fleeing, the lieutenant said.
Officials evacuated the bank and summoned a bomb squad to examine the device, who found it contained to explosives.
Deputies found and detained a man matching the robber’s description about two hours later, around the corner at 195th Street and Pioneer Boulevard, Rodriguez said.
Witnesses identified the detained man as the robber, and money believed to have been stolen in the heist was found in his possession, officials said. He was booked on suspicion of bank robbery, making criminal threats and making a bomb threat. Bail was set at $100,000.
Detectives withheld the suspect’s name Friday, “as investigators look into the potential for additional similar robberies committed by the suspect,” Rodriguez said.
The FBI has joined sheriff’s officials in the investigation.
LOS ANGELES >> A prolific serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” who was arrested following an ill-fated heist in South Pasadena Thursday has been charged in federal court, officials said Saturday.
Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga is accused of eight bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, as well as numerous other incidents of “casing,” spanning Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties since June 10, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
His alleged crime spree came to an end Thursday after he tried, unsuccessfully to rob a South Pasadena bank before being captured minutes later by police in neighboring San Marino, according to South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Friday charging Noriega with the South Pasadena crime.
“However, the investigation is continuing and Noriega potentially faces additional charges,” FBI officials said in a written statement.
Crime attributed to the serial bandit have been reported in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco, Fontana and Beaumont.
The FBI labeled the then-unidentified robber the Bluto Bandit due to a black fake beard he wore during the crimes, reminding investigators of the villain in the Popeye comic strips, Eimiller said.
The Bluto Bandit’s tactic, or modus operandi, was to pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
“In some robberies, the note advised the teller to remain calm; to remove the money within 15 or 30 seconds; or to avoid deploying security devices,” according to the FBI statement. “The suspect generally did not talk during the robberies.”
When San Marino police apprehended Noriega following a brief car chase Thursday, officers found evidence linking him to the crime spree, including bank robbery demand notes, officials said.
He was still wearing his trademark fake beard, Robledo added.
Noriega appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Friday and was remanded to federal custody pending trial, officials said.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested a fake-bearded serial bank robbery suspect known as the “Bluto Bandit” Thursday following a failed heist in South Pasadena, which officials alleged was the seventh crime in his multi-county crime spree.
San Marino police chased down and arrested Joseph Adel Noriega, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga following the 12:30 p.m. failed bank robbery in South Pasadena, according to San Marino police Sgt. Timothy Tebbetts.
“The suspect was wanted by the FBI for at least six prior bank robberies and attempted robberies throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties,” he said.
South Pasadena police first responded to Chase bank, 1305 Fair Oaks Ave., after the robber arrived and passed a teller a note demanding cash, South Pasadena police Cpl. Shannon Robledo said.
“For unknown reasons, the suspect fled the bank without receiving money, leaving behind the demand note. A bank employee saw the suspect get into a white four door sedan and flee Southbound on Fair Oaks Avenue,” Robledo said.
San Marino police spotted the suspect’s vehicle driving in the area of Huntington Drive and Bradbury Road, Tebbetts said. Noriega led police on a chase before eventually stopping at Mission Drive and Hackett Avenue in Rosemead, where he was taken into custody.
The Bluto Bandit earned his moniker, taken from the villain in the Popeye comic strip, due to the false beard he wore during his crimes, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
She described the Bluto Bandit as the “most prolific” serial bank robber currently operating in the Southland.
Previous robberies and incidents of suspect “casing” attributed to the bandit occurred in cities including Monrovia, Duarte, Unincorporated Pasadena, Ontario, Chino, Norco and Fontana
“(Noriega) was still wearing the fake black beard when he was arrested,” Robledo said.
Generally, the robber would target Chase banks branches and pass a note demanding cash to bank tellers, officials said.
The “Bluto Bandit” is pictured in this bank surveillance photo during a June 16, 2015, robbery at a Chase bank branch in Duarte. (Courtesy of the FBI.)