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Ex-officer is held in bank robbery

California Briefing / PASADENA

August 28, 2008|Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Federal agents arrested a retired Pasadena police officer Wednesday morning in connection with a recent La Habra bank robbery, and agents are investigating any link to a string of similar robberies attributed to "the Polite Bandit," authorities said.

Vincent Cantu, 44, of Whittier was arrested at 9 a.m. in his car near his Whittier home, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman. Authorities later searched his home.

Cantu was in federal custody Wednesday afternoon at Santa Ana Jail awaiting a court appearance in U.S. District Court, Eimiller said.

La Habra police arrested Cantu on suspicion of robbery Aug. 15 and released him the next day on bond. That arrest came after police spotted him driving from Banco Popular on Whittier Boulevard after a holdup there, said La Habra police spokeswoman Cindy Knapp. She said his silver Toyota FJ Cruiser fit the description of the robber's vehicle.

Federal agents are investigating Cantu's connection to five other bank robberies in La Habra and La Mirada since 2005 by a man authorities call the Polite Bandit.

Bank tellers and other witnesses describe the bandit as a sympathetic man armed with a semiautomatic handgun who apologized for robbing them.

Cantu, who could not be reached for comment, has hired a defense attorney. After eight years with the Pasadena Police Department, he retired in 1996, a department spokeswoman said.

He has a license to carry a concealed weapon, Eimiller said, although it was not clear whether it fit the description of the one used by the Polite Bandit.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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