A man arrested at the end of a chase following a La Verne bank robbery is believed to be a prolific bank robber linked to at least 11 heists in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties, officials said Saturday.
Dwight McGarrah, 29, is accused of a spree of bank robberies attributed to the “Don’t Even Bandit” dating back to Aug. 27, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
He earned his moniker from the FBI due to statements he made during the crimes, as reported by victims and witnesses, Eimiller said. The robber generally presents a note demanding cash to tellers while making verbal threats that include the phrase “Don’t even.”
His alleged string of robberies came to an end Friday after La Verne police arrested him following a 1:20 p.m. robbery at a Wells Fargo branch, 1487 Foothill Blvd., La Verne police officials said in a written statement.
Police caught up with him as he was driving away from the scene of the robbery, officials said. He was taken into custody after leading officers on a pursuit down the Foothill (210) and San Gabriel River (605) freeways that ended in a crash in the area of Myrtle Avenue and Live Oak Boulevard in an unincorporated county area near Arcadia.
McGarrah continued fleeing on foot but was quickly captured, according to La Verne police.
Following his arrest, investigators learned of McGarrah’s alleged connection to 10 other bank robberies.
They include an Aug. 27 robbery at a Bank of America in Ontario; a Sept. 7 robbery at a Citibank branch in Fontana; a Sept. 8 robbery at a Bank of the West in Alhambra, a Sept. 17 robbery at a OneWest branch in Covina; a Sept. 27 robbery at a Bank of the West in Rosemead; an Oct. 4 robbery a Bank of America in Garden Grove; and a Nov. 16 robbery a Chase bank in Fullerton, according to the FBI.
The bandit is also suspected in three additional robberies that took place between Nov. 16 and Friday’s robbery in La Verne, officials said, though further details on those crimes were not available Saturday.
McGarrah was taken to a hospital for injuries suffered in the crash, officials said. He was expected to appear for an arraignment in Pomona Superior Court Tuesday.
PHOTO: A serial bank robbery suspect arrested following a La Verne bank robbery and police pursuit on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, is believed to be responsible for a series of at least 11 bank robberies in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties since August of 2012. The FBI has dubbed the suspect the “Don’t Even Bandit” based on witness statement that he made verbal threats during his robberies which included the phrase, “Don’t even.” (Courtesy of the FBI)
An armed bank robbery suspect led La Verne police on a freeway chase before crashing his car and being captured by officers, authorities said.
The robbery was reported about 1:30 p.m. at a La Verne Wells Fargo Branch, 1487 Foothill Blvd., a La Verne police dispatcher said.
Officers soon spotted the suspect’s car — a gray or silver sedan — and initiated a pursuit, officials said.
The chase went west on the Foothill (210) Freeway, then south on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway.
The fleeing driver exited the freeway and ultimately crashed on Myrtle Avenue, just north of Live Oak Avenue, in an unincorporated county area between Irwindale and Arcadia, according to initial reports from the scene. The suspect continued to flee on foot but was captured nearby.
Officers continued searching the area near where the pursuit ended for evidence.
No injuries were reported in the bank robbery.
Further details were not immediately available.
ALHAMBRA — Police are seeking two men who carried out a robbery Wednesday at a Valley Boulevard Bank.
The suspects, initially described only as two black men wearing bandannas over their faces, entered the Preferred Bank, 325 E. Valley Blvd., just before 11:20 a.m., according to Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson.
“They jumped the counter and demanded money from the bank tellers,” he said.
No weapons displayed during the robbery, and no injuries were reported.
They were last seen fleeing on foot.
The amount of cash stolen in the robbery was not clear.
WEST COVINA — Three men wearing ski masks fled with an undisclosed amount after a takeover robbery of a West Covina bank Friday, police said.
Two of the robbers were armed with guns.
The crime took place about 11:20 a.m. at the First Federal Credit Union, 2530 E. Workman Ave., according to West Covina Police Sgt. Preston. He declined to give his first name.
He said the robbers made customers and employees lie on the ground. The suspects removed cash from drawers in the vault, Preston added.
The robbers drove off in a white Toyota.
There was no description available for the suspects.
The sister of a recent Northern California homicide victim accused of robbing or attempting to rob eight banks — including ones in Arcadia, Temple City and Baldwin Park — was in federal custody Thursday awaiting trial, officials said.
Obiomachuckuka Njokanma, 36, of Michigan, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of bank robbery in connection with the alleged spree, which took place between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, according to FBI officials and court documents.
Officials said Njokanma also admitted being responsible for a Dec. 27 Modesto bank robbery for which she has not yet been charged.
Her alleged San Gabriel Valley crimes include a Jan. 4 robbery at the Foothill Federal Credit Union, 30 S. First Ave. in Arcadia; a failed Jan. 10 robbery at a Wells Fargo, 11460 Merced Ave. in Baldwin Park; and a Jan. 10 robbery at a Bank of the West, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive in Temple City.
She was arrested Jan. 14 by by Los Angeles police, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
According to the indictment, “Njokanma repeatedly apologized for committing the bank robberies. She explained that her sister was recently discovered murdered in Modesto, California. She admitted that the very first bank she robbed was in Modesto.”
A search of public records shows that Njokanma is a relative of Eldoris Graham, 28, of Modesto, who was found slain in her hometown Jan. 11.
Graham’s boyfriend, 36-year-old Anthony Coxum, was not cooperating with investigators and gave inconsistent statements to detectives, but was not initially arrested in connection with the killing, Modesto police officials said in a written statement.
Coxum was being held on suspicion of unrelated probation violations in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the investigation continued, Modesto police added. He was driving Graham’s car when arrested.
Graham was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 15, and her body was found Jan. 11, officials said.
FBI investigators had been referring to the serial robber as the “60 Second Bandit” due to statements she made during the robberies indicating she wanted to get the money and be gone within 60 seconds, Eimiller said. But officials had not yet gone public with the moniker.
During the robberies, Njokanma handed tellers notes threatening to shoot them or others in the bank if they didn’t quickly hand over large-denomination bills, according to court documents. She would often wear a baseball cap or a wig.
In all, the eight robberies Njokanma is charged with allegedly netted her $20,001.
In addition to the three San Gabriel Valley crimes, robberies linked to Njokanma also include a Dec. 28 robbery at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists-Screen Actors Guild Credit Union in Burbank; a Dec. 31 heist at a U.S. Bank in Bell; a failed Jan. 8 robbery at a Wells Fargo branch at 3800 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles; a Jan. 9 robbery at the First Financial Credit Union, 5115 Wilshire Ave. in Los Angeles; and a Jan. 12 robbery at a Citibank, 270 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.
BANK SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS of Baldwin Park attempted robbery (above) and Temple City robbery (below) courtesy of the FBI.
The FBI has released bank surveillance photos from a Monday robbery at a Chase branch on Huntintgon Drive.
ARCADIA — Police are seeking a mustachioed bandit who robbed a bank branch earlier this week, authorities said.
The heist took place about 11:25 a.m. Monday at the Chase bank, 60 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said in a written statement.
“The suspect presented a demand note and then left the location with an undisclosed amount of money,” Cullen said.
He was described as a Latino man in his early-30s, with a black mustache. He wore a black sweat shirt, a black hat and black glasses.
The FBI is assisting the Arcadia Police Department in the investigation.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by contacting L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Authorities sought a woman Thursday who carried out an attempted bank robbery in Baldwin Park Thursday, followed by a successful one in Temple City about an hour later.
Both crimes involved strikingly similar suspect descriptions and tactics, and were believed to be the work of the same female robber, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The first crime took place just before 10 a.m. at Wells Fargo, 14460 Merced Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mark Harvey said.
A female robber entered the bank and handed a teller a threatening note which demanded money and alluded to a weapon, the sergeant said. No weapon was seen.
“Something spooked her and she ran out of the bank before obtaining any funds,” Harvey said.
She was last seen running through a parking lot.
Police described her as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, a black shirt and jeans.
Just over an hour later, another bank robbery was reported in Temple City, where the robber did obtain an unknown amount of cash in the heist, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The Temple City robbery took place about 11:08 a.m. at the Bank of the West, 9934 Los Tunas Drive, the lieutenant said.
Again, the robber was described as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, officials said. She was further described as about 30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 200 pounds.
Eimiller said witnesses also indicated the woman’s hair appeared unusually shiny, as if she was wearing a wig.
Somoano said the robber was last seen fleeing the area in a red car. A further description of the vehicle was unavailable.
The FBI was assisting Baldwin Park police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the investigations.
FBI agents were looking into the possibility the woman is responsible for other area bank robberies.
SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS from Baldwin Park attempted bank robbery (top) and Temple City Bank robbery (bottom) courtesy of the FBI.
ARCADIA — A man fled empty-handed Thursday following a failed robbery at a bank branch, authorities said.
The crime occurred about 5:35 p.m. at Chase, 3870 E. Foothill Blvd., in an unincorporated county area between Arcadia and Pasadena, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Paula Tokar said.
The man entered the bank and handed a teller a threatening note demanding cash, Detective Steve Kays of the Sheriff’s Major Crime Bureau said.
But when the teller didn’t immediately comply, he apparently became “spooked” and fled the bank, Kays said. He was last seen on foot heading south from the area.
Officials described the failed robber as black man in his late 40s with a shaved head. He stood 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall and was of average build. He wore a gray hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
It was not immediately clear if the robber is linked to any other area bank robberies, Kays said, though he was not believed to be the same man who robbed a Monrovia bank Wednesday while wearing women’s clothing.
UPDATE: The FBI has dubbed this robber the “French Tip Bandit,” due to the fingernail polish worn during a Wednesday robbery at a Monrovia bank.
MONROVIA — A bizarrely dressed man claiming to have anthrax in a briefcase robbed a bank branch Wednesday, police said.
The robber wore lip gloss, candy apple red nail polish with a white trim, rectangular glasses, gold hoop earrings, a white bandana, a tan women’s track suit with the hood pulled up and dark-brown UGG Boots when he entered the Chase bank, 690 W. Huntington Drive, about 10 a.m., according to Monrovia police and FBI officials.
He demanded cash from a teller while carrying a briefcase, the lieutenant said. “He said that it had anthrax in it,” Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
“He indicated the victim should comply with the demands if they wanted to see their family for Christmas,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After obtaining an unknown amount of cash, the robber fled the bank, Lee said.
The man took the briefcase with him when he left the bank, police added.
“Police do not believe there is a credible threat of anthrax,” Eimiller said. “No weapon was seen.”
The robber was last seen getting into a late-model, silver Chrysler PT Cruiser with a waiting driver, Eimiller said.
No injuries were reported.
Police distributed a bulletin to other area police agencies in hopes of tracking down the unique-looking suspect.
He was described as 28 to 33 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall and of average build, Eimiller said. He spoke with a deep voice.
Officials were continuing to look into whether the robber was responsible for any other bank robberies, Eimiller said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Monrovia Police Department at 626-256-8000, or the FBI’s 24-hour Los Angeles-area tip line at 888-228-8443.