Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria – what they all have in common aside from the name is that they’ve all been hit by the same serial bank robber, the PT Cruiser Bandit.
The suspected bank robber, believed by investigators to be in his 50s or 60s, hit the Coast Hills Credit Union on South Bradley Road in Santa Maria in the middle of the week, right at closing time.
On Wednesday, about 5 p.m., the unassuming bank robber in the casual collared shirt, sunglasses and baseball hat did what he’s done at five SCV financial institutions since June – handed the teller a note demanding cash, indicating he had a weapon then calmly left the building.
The FBI calls him the Seasoned Bandit which – after nine banks robbed since June – seems fitting.
The frequency of the nine bank robberies since the first one hit in Carpinteria on Apr. 27 works out to nine robberies in 132 days …. or the same as a bank robbed every two weeks since the beginning of summer, on average.
“This bandit, or as we call him, the Seasoned Bandit, is now linked to nine bank robberies, in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles County and now Santa Maria,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told The Signal Friday.
“The moniker ‘Seasoned Bandit’ was assigned based on the bandit’s suspected age and grey-white hair,” Eimiller said.
The FBI issued a brief news release Friday citing the 9th and most recent robbery in Santa Maria, a day after their co-investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Major Crimes Bureau issued a news release reporting eight robberies believed to have been committed by the same suspect.
“They’re not releasing any other information,” Eimiller said.
Questions, subsequently, about the complexity of the robberies carried out since June 10 remain unanswered, including:
– Is the suspect armed and dangerous? Investigators report the man appears to be near retirement age with no weapon reported at any of the robberies.
– Is the getaway car fast? Investigators released an actual bank surveillance photo of the getaway car Thursday, described as a white or champagne-colored PT Cruiser.
– Is the suspect concealing his identity effectively? Investigators have issued at least half a dozen photos of the suspect, each time depicted wearing a casual collared shirt, baseball hat or fedora and sunglasses.
Local financial Institutions hit by the PT Cruiser Bandit – aka Seasoned Bandit – include:
– Monday June 12: Shortly before 3 p.m., a lone male walked into the bank branch of Wells Fargo near the intersection of Lyons Avenue and Wiley Canyon Road. He gave a note to a teller demanding money and indicating he had a gun, although no gun was seen.
– Tuesday June 27: A couple of minutes before 5 p.m., a lone male walked into the Chase Bank branch on Lyons Avenue at Apple Street. He gave a note to a teller demanding money and indicating he had a gun, although no gun was seen.
– Tuesday July 25: About 5:15 p.m., a lone male entered the Logix Valencia Promenade bank branch on McBean Parkway near Magic Mountain Parkway. He gave a note to a teller demanding money and indicating he had a gun, although no gun was seen.
– Thursday Aug. 10: A couple of minutes after 5 p.m., a lone male walked into the California Credit Union on Magic Mountain Parkway. He gave a note to a teller demanding money and indicating he had a gun, although no gun was seen.
– Monday Aug. 21: About 6 p.m., a long male walked calmly into the Wescom Credit Union on Pico Canyon Road at The Old Road in Stevenson Ranch. He gave a note to a teller demanding money and indicating he had a gun, although no gun was seen.
Out-of-town financial institutions hit by the same serial bank robber include:
– Thursday Apr. 27: The Montecito Bank & Trust in Carpinteria.
– Wednesday May 24: The Union Bank in Carpinteria.
– Friday July 7: The Golden I Bank in Goleta.
– Wednesday Sept. 6: The Coast Hills Credit Union in Santa Maria.
Anyone with information as to the identity or whereabouts of the Seasoned Bandit is urged to contact the law enforcement agencies investigating this case or dial 911. In Los Angeles the FBI may be reached 24 hours a day at 310 477-6565.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt