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14-Year-Old Girl Charged With Robbing Two Banks

Crime: Authorities in San Bernardino County say the suspect is a crack addict. A man was arrested as alleged accomplice.

April 12, 2002|HECTOR BECERRA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 14-year-old girl allegedly addicted to crack cocaine has been charged with robbing two banks, and may be the youngest person accused of bank robbery in San Bernardino County, authorities said Thursday.

"Nobody knows of anyone younger in their years of enforcing the law," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Chip Patterson. "This is unusual."

The teenager, not identified because of her age, is accused of holding up a Bank of America branch in a Chino Hills supermarket in November and robbing a bank in Redlands later that day. She pretended to have a handgun under her sweater, Patterson said.

The girl was arrested and placed in San Bernardino County Juvenile Hall on Dec. 8 for allegedly assaulting her mother in Ontario. She faces two counts of armed robbery.

A 32-year-old man who may have encouraged her to commit the heists also was arrested. Both suspects are heavy drug users who were homeless for some periods, authorities said. The pair are not related. His identity was not released.

During the Chino Hills robbery Nov. 29, the man waited in a getaway car, Patterson said. As they drove away, a dye pack "exploded and ruined the money," he added. "They tossed it out the window and we recovered it."

That night, the pair allegedly robbed the Redlands bank. In that case, both robbers entered the bank and pretended to have guns. They escaped with an undisclosed amount, Patterson said.

The man, who was arrested about two months ago, is a suspect in six bank robberies in and around San Bernardino County. He also could face charges of unlawful sex with a minor, Patterson said.

On April 9, authorities discovered that fingerprints taken when the girl was booked for the assault matched prints taken from a threatening note passed to a bank teller in Chino Hills, Patterson said.

A teller eventually identified her from a series of lineups.

"If it hadn't been for that one contact with [the] Ontario [Police Department], who knows what would have happened," Patterson said.

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