Authorities today released a composite sketch of the so-called Snowboarder Bandit, who most recently tried to hold up an Irvine bank last week. On Feb. 21 the man robbed the Chase Bank branch at 30202 Crown Valley Parkway, then fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.
The bandit, who is on the FBI’s list of most-wanted Southern California bank robbers, is suspected of holding up at least 10 banks. He was most recently seen about 4:45 p.m. Thursday at a Wells Fargo branch at 3951 Portola Pkwy in Irvine, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities say, the robber enters bank, presents teller with demand note usually from within a plastic grocery bag. The demand note says empty your drawers, no dye packs and that he has a gun. The robber places the money in a grocery bag and exits the bank. The robber was possibly seen driving a blue Mazda Miata.
Last week, the man walked into the Wells Fargo irvine and, “made some small talk” and asked about a safety deposit box, Amormino said. When asked for his name, the man left. “He had the same physical characteristics and same clothing on as the Snowboarder Bandit,” Amormino said.
“This composite sketch that we have looks pretty good. Hopefully, someone will recognize him.”
Rewards totaling $10,000 have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bank robber, whose most recent heist was March 21 at a U.S. Bank branch in a Pavilions market in Irvine at 3901 Portola Parkway.
The suspect, who earned his nickname because of his youthful appearance and the knit hat and ski clothes worn to disguise himself, has recently switched to wearing a large motorcycle helmet, according to FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking. In the March holdup, he was wearing the motorcycle helmet with black sunglasses on underneath, said Laura Eimiller of the FBI. The bandit apparently tried to rob a Citibank branch in Irvine on March 17 that he held up in January, Gicking said.
He stood in line wearing the motorcycle helmet, but when told he would have to wait a few minutes, he apparently got spooked and left, Gicking said. The Snowboarder Bandit is suspected in holdups starting Dec. 20 in Laguna Hills, Jan. 9 in Anaheim Hills, Jan. 15 in Irvine, Jan. 28 in Ladera Ranch, Jan. 31 in Corona del Mar, Feb. 1 in Irvine, Feb. 13 in Anaheim Hills, March 2 in Irvine and March 5 in Anaheim Hills, Eimiller said.
Wells Fargo Bank and Schools First Credit Union are each offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the bandit. Anyone with information about the suspect’s identity or whereabouts was asked to call the FBI’s office in Santa Ana at (714) 542-8825.
–City News Service