FBI agents have arrested a man they believe to be the PT Cruiser Bandit, responsible for at least six bank robberies in the Santa Clarita Valley.
James Allen Hayes was arrested by FBI agents Monday night after an extensive investigation that led them to Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.
“The suspect known as the Seasoned Bandit was arrested last night (in Ventura) and in court today,” Laura Eimiller, FBI spokeswoman told The Signal Tuesday, referring to the same suspect known as the PT Cruiser Bandit.
Hayes was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, she said.
In an affidavit submitted by the FBI detailing the bank robberies believed committed by the PT Cruiser, the arresting agent described how a camera set up on Highway 126 captured a license plate later linked to the suspect.
The affidavit reads in part: “On September 26, 2017, I reviewed vehicle license plates that were captured by a license plate reader camera.
“The FBI had placed a license plate reader camera at the intersection of Chiquito Canyon Road and Henry Mayo Drive, in Castaic, California, which law enforcement believed to be the most likely route for the robber to travel between robberies in Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara County.
“On September 25, 2017, at 4:15 p.m., approximately 15 minutes after the September 25, 2017 robbery attempt of the Wells Fargo Bank, California license plate 5JPN601 was recorded as driving westbound.
“I queried a License Plate Recognition database and found numerous photos of the PT Cruiser with California license plate number 5JPN601.”
The Wells Fargo bank robbery that happened on Sept. 25, marked the second time the PT Cruiser Bandit – aka Seasoned Bandit – held up the bank.
Shortly after 4 p.m., a man described as in his 60s entered the Wells Fargo branch on Lyons Avenue at Wiley Canyon Road, demanded money and calmly walked out of the bank, getting away into a PT Cruiser and getting away.
As in the other bank robberies, no weapon was seen and no one was hurt.
The Sept. 25 robbery also marked the sixth local bank the PT Cruiser Bandit – dubbed the Seasoned Bandit by the FBI – has carried out in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“It’s the same bank as before,” Lt. Chuck Becerra of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal on that day.
“This suspect matches the description of the previous robbery suspects,” he said. “The only difference today is that he wore a black hat and the color of the PT Cruiser was different.
In the affidavit submitted by the FBI, the agent filing the court papers wrote:
“Between April 27, 2017, and September 26, 2017, Hayes committed ten bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties.
“The robberies were committed in a similar manner, using a note that requested between $5,000 and $10,000, and, in the last nine of the 11 robberies, Hayes informed the bank teller that he had a gun.
“Hayes is visible on bank surveillance video in each of these robberies.”
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