“Windy City Bandit” serial bank robbery suspect jailed after Santa Fe Springs heist tried to use Uber for getaway

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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.
1017_NWS_WDN-L-BANDIT1The 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.

BANK SURVEILLANCE IMAGES courtesy of the FBI.

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Witness helps police nab Santa Fe Springs bank robbery suspect


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.

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Suspect jailed following Cerritos bank robbery


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.

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‘Bluto Bandit’ suspect, linked to 4-county bank robbery spree, charged federally

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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.

Bank surveillance photo courtesy of the FBI.

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Suspected serial bank robber, dubbed ‘Bluto Bandit,’ jailed after failed heist in South Pasadena

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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 BLUTOFOLO2door 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.)

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Man arrested after ‘borrowing’ money from San Dimas bank branch

SAN DIMAS >> Deputies arrested a man Tuesday after a bizarre incident in which he entered a bank branch on roller blades and asked to “borrow” money before being subdued by deputies and diners at a nearby restaurant, officials said.
Scott Baertich, 24, was booked on suspicion of robbery, though the ultimate decision as to what charge or charges he may face will be made by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edward said.
The unusual incident began shortly before 11 a.m. at the U.S. Bank, 165 E. Bonita Ave., the lieutenant said.
Baertich rolled into the branch on skates and “asked for theme to let him borrow $20,” Edwards said.
A clerk handed the man a $20 out of fear and he left the bank, she said. Deputies responding to reports of a bank robbery suspect on roller blades spotted a pair of skates sitting in front of nearby Roady’s Restaurant, 160 W. Bonita Ave., Edwards said.
Deputies — aided by customers of the restaurant, which included an off-duty deputy and a retired deputy, wrestled Baertich into custody, she said. Deputies used a Taser to subdue the man. No significant injuries were reported.
It was uncertain with prosectors would file a robbery charge against Baertich, as he made no direct threat or demand while inside the bank, Edwards said. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled appearance Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.

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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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