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Suspected 'Santa Claus Bandit' Seized

August 06, 1988

The "Santa Claus bandit," suspected of robbing 33 Southern California savings and loans since escaping from federal prison in mid-April, was captured by sheriff's deputies Friday at the home of a friend in La Puente.

Michael J. Anderson, dubbed "the Santa Claus bandit" because of the 45-year-old suspect's long, grayish-white hair and the gray beard he wore during many of the robberies he allegedly committed--was being held without bail on robbery charges and a federal arrest warrant.

Also arrested and held without bail was Ernest Martinez, 40, who was charged with parole violations. It was at Martinez's La Puente home that Anderson was found. The tip came from someone who recognized Anderson from wanted photos published in a number of newspapers.

Anderson never used a weapon in his robberies, and no injuries were reported. His average take was about $1,500 per robbery, a sheriff's spokesman said.

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