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O.C.'s 4-Bank-Heist Spree Ends in Arrest

Authorities believe that one man is behind the robberies in four cities in less than four hours.

June 10, 2005|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A robber believed to have held up four Orange County banks in less than four hours was arrested Thursday, just hours after a television viewer recognized his face in a newscast.

"The viewer contacted the FBI," said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, "who sent someone to a motel in Costa Mesa where the suspect was placed under arrest."

Neither the suspect's name nor the name of the motel was released.The robber is believed to have carried out heists in Westminster, Costa Mesa, Tustin and Huntington Beach on Wednesday, authorities said.

"It is extremely rare -- if ever -- that a robber hits four banks in a day, let alone in 3 1/2 hours," Amormino said. "That is unheard of."

The Sheriff's Department was working with the FBI to solve the robberies, in which no one was injured.

The latest heist occurred about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday at a Washington Mutual Bank branch in Costa Mesa where a robber handed a teller a note demanding money and stating that he had a gun, police said. The man, who never showed a weapon, fled with cash in a blue vinyl pouch he had brought with him, according to police.

He is suspected of holding up Washington Mutual Bank branches in Huntington Beach and Westminster and a Union Bank branch in Tustin earlier in the day, police said.

Authorities also believe he is the same man robbed two Newport Beach banks in the last two weeks.

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