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'Cell Phone Bandit' Robs Bank Branch

August 16, 2000|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A branch of California Federal Bank was robbed Tuesday by a man believed to be the "cell phone bandit," whom authorities say is linked to at least six Southland holdups.

The sixth bank robbery in the city this year occurred about 1:25 p.m. in the 3900 block of East Thousand Oaks Boulevard. The same branch was robbed in June 1999 by a different man, authorities said.

"He stood in line with four other customers and then walked up and asked for the money," said Ventura County Sheriff's Senior Deputy Ed Tumbleson.

Although none of the 12 customers and employees saw the robber with a cell phone, authorities said the robber's description and the statement he made to the teller match a man wanted in four holdups in Santa Barbara County and two in Los Angeles County.

"His usual [method of operation] is that he walks into the bank talking on the phone," said FBI Special Agent Brent Robbins. "He also gives a unique command."

The robber left the bank on foot and no car was seen during the getaway, authorities said. There was no weapon and no injuries.

The robber was white, 5 feet 9, 180 pounds and wore sunglasses, a green baseball cap, long green shorts with white stripes on the sides and a white, short-sleeved button-up shirt. He was carrying a fanny pack.

Anyone with information on the heist should call Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 385-TALK or 494-TALK. Callers can remain anonymous and there is a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

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