Glendale police said Wednesday that a man arrested last weekend in connection with a string of recent bank robberies is not the "Cowboy Bandit," as they first believed, and that the man who wore a Western disguise while holding up banks is still on the loose.
However, police still believe Warren Matthew Sims, 37, a Los Angeles roofer, was involved in at least three of the six robberies the Cowboy Bandit--so dubbed because he wore a Western hat and shirt and sported a thin beard in three robberies--is believed to have committed.
Sims and the Cowboy Bandit, who is as yet unidentified, may have been partners in the crimes, said police spokesman Chahe Keuroghelian.
"He (Sims) has been positively identified by witnesses at the last three bank robberies, but as of now we haven't been able to completely connect him with the three previous robberies," Keuroghelian said.
The first three crimes occurred at a Wells Fargo bank in Montrose Aug. 29, a Union Federal Bank in Silver Lake Sept. 3 and a Citizens Bank in La Canada Sept. 7.
In each incident, the Cowboy Bandit walked up to a teller window and ordered the teller to empty the cash drawer into a bag he was carrying.
Police then thought the Cowboy Bandit dropped his disguise and shaved his beard.
Bank security camera photos released earlier this month were allegedly of Sims, who is charged in the Sept. 10 robbery of a Great Western Bank branch in Glendale and two robberies in recent weeks at a Bank of America branch in Eagle Rock.
Acting on a tip, Glendale police tailed Sims on Saturday from a construction project where he was working in the Atwater area of Los Angeles and arrested him in Glendale.
Sims, who is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $500 bail, already has been formally charged in the Great Western robbery, in which he reportedly escaped with about $3,000 cash.
He will also be arraigned in the two Bank of America heists. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison, police said.
Keuroghelian would not comment on whether police have any leads on who the real "cowboy" is.
He said there are several reasons that police believe he and Sims may have been working together, such as the way they approached the teller window, used similar guns and ordered the teller to put the cash into a bag.
"It also appeared several times that they both were aware of the bank robbery alarm systems.
In one incident, Sims told the teller that she should not have pressed the alarm button," Keuroghelian said.