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Police: Bank-robbing 'Bucket List Bandit' is nabbed in Oklahoma

September 15, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Police booking photo of Michael Eugene Brewster, the suspected "Bucket List Bandit." Brewster is suspected in a string of bank robberies in which he sometimes told tellers he had cancer.
Police booking photo of Michael Eugene Brewster, the suspected "Bucket… (Roland [Okla.] Police Department )

The man believed to be a serial bank robber known as the Bucket List Bandit -- because he told tellers he had only months to live -- was arrested this week in Oklahoma.

Michael Eugene Brewster, 54, of Pensacola, Fla., was pulled over Thursday on a traffic stop in the small town of Roland near the Oklahoma-Arkansas border; he's suspected of robbing a bank in Erie, Pa., three days earlier. 

A tipster helped agents identify Brewster before the stop, Special Agent Rick Rains of the FBI’s Oklahoma City office told the Los Angeles Times. A warrant for his arrest had been issued in the Pennsylvania robbery.

Brewster is suspected of having robbed as many as 10 banks in nine states, according to an FBI news release. The string of robberies began in June in Arvada, Colo. Ultimately, they came to include heists in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Pocatello, Idaho; Roy, Utah, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Bloomington, Ill.; and Columbia and O'Fallon, Mo.

In some heists, the robber reportedly told tellers he was suffering from cancer. 

The robbery in Erie may have brought an end to the Bucket List Bandit heists. A confidential informant offered the FBI a name and birth date of the suspect, and a teller there picked Brewster's photo out of a lineup, according to the Associated Press. Authorities then found an "obvious likeness" between Brewster and a man seen in surveillance video at the nine other robberies.

“We knew this was our person; we just didn't know who was going to be lucky enough to get ahold of him,” Bloomington police Chief Randall McKinley told the AP.

That appears to have happened during the traffic stop in Oklahoma. Police determined that the vehicle driven by Brewster was stolen in Florida -- and that it had a fake Utah license plate. Then, one thing led to another.

The arrest was made without incident, authorities said, and Brewster is now being held in Oklahoma pending court proceedings in Pennsylvania.

No one was hurt in any of the robberies and, although Brewster allegedly told tellers he had a weapon, one was never seen.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

 

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