FBI officials Monday issued an appeal for information about a man believed to have robbed a string of Southern California banks--including three in the Ventura County area--by threatening to detonate a bomb.
Authorities say the robber first discusses conducting financial transactions with bank officers before announcing that he has a bomb and is robbing the bank, according to FBI Special Agent Lawrence J. Dick.
Dick said the man is believed to have begun robbing banks in January, 1992, and may be responsible for as many as 20 additional robberies--many in the Riverside area.
Dick said agents do not know whether the bomb is real, but advise bank employees to not take any chances and comply with the robber's demands.
"Once he has placed the box on the desk, he threatens that if he is denied the money or something else goes wrong, a partner close by will detonate the device," Dick said.
FBI officials believe that the bandit robbed two Ventura banks: a Bank of America branch on Telephone Road in May, 1993, and a branch of First National Bank of Ventura on Feb. 17. Agents also believe that he robbed a Home Savings Bank on Kanan Road in Agoura on Jan. 18.
Dick would not release information on the amount of money the robber took in the incidents.
The bandit has been described as a white male in his mid-40s, 5-foot-10 to 6 feet tall and about 185 pounds. He had short graying hair and a mustache and wore glasses. Dick said anyone with information about the robber is asked to call the Ventura FBI office at 642-3995.