Single suspect arrested after three banks are robbed in about an hour in Southern California

A single-story building with brick pillars sits behind an area of landscaped bushes and flowering plants.
Police headquarters in Murrieta. Officers arrested a suspect in a series of bank robberies.
(Google Maps)
Share via

Police have arrested a 62-year-old man on suspicion of carrying out three bank robberies within about an hour in Temecula and Murrieta.

The man, Sonny Tho Leu, was detained by police in Murrieta after they stopped his vehicle.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, the first of the robberies occurred Tuesday morning at a bank on Margarita Road in Temecula.

When deputies arrived at the bank at 11:51 a.m., employees told them a man had passed a note to a teller demanding money. The teller complied, and the man left with an undisclosed sum of money.


Bank employees said he was wearing a blue shirt and baseball cap and carrying an orange bag.

While deputies were at the bank questioning people, they learned that a person with the same description had just carried out two bank robberies in Murrieta “utilizing the same method,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

At 12:19 p.m., just 28 minutes after deputies had arrived at the Temecula bank, the Murrieta Police Department received a call about an armed robbery at a bank on California Oaks Road.

A bank employee told police that the man, wearing a black baseball cap and carrying an orange bag, had handed over a note demanding money while showing a gun in his waistband.

Again, a teller handed over money, and the man fled.

Bruce Bell and Montez Day were bank robbers in L.A. when it was the ‘bank robbery capital of the world.’ After prison, will they return to lives of crime?

March 14, 2024

At 12:58 p.m., while officers and detectives were in the area searching for the man, another call came in after a robbery at a bank on Hancock Avenue in Murrieta.

This time too a bank employee handed over an undisclosed amount of money, and the man drove away.


The authorities soon identified the vehicle, sharing the details over police radio.

Officers stopped the car as the suspect pulled into the driveway of a home in Murrieta.

Murrieta police said a search of the vehicle turned up evidence of the robberies, and Leu was identified as the suspect in all three robberies.

He was jailed on suspicion of bank robbery and criminal threats.