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Suspect Arrested in Connection with Bad Hair Bandit Bank Robberies

Bellevue's Cathay Bank was linked to the Bad Hair Bandit series of robberies. The FBI has in custody a woman suspected in the robberies.

The Bad Hair Bandit, linked to one bank robbery in Bellevue and up to 20 across four states, is believed to have been apprehended, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Placer County (Calif.) Sheriff’s office arrested Cynthia Van Holland, 47, on suspicion of bank robbery, according to a press release from the bureau.

Investigators on the FBI Safe Streets Task Forces in Seattle and Sacramento believe that Van Holland is the same person nicknamed “Bad Hair Bandit,” who is responsible for up to 20 bank robberies across four states, including one at the in Bellevue.

Placer County Sheriff deputies arrested Van Holland and her alleged getaway driver, Christopher Alonzo twelve miles from the Bank of the West in Auburn, California, according to the press release.

 Around 2:25 p.m., a woman had entered the Bank of the West and passed a note to a teller demanding money and stating that she was armed. The woman was given an undetermined amount of money and left the bank. Placer County Sheriff deputies were able to arrest Van Holland and Alonzo when their vehicle and license plate matched a description given by a witness, the press release stated.

Van Holland is suspected of committing or attempting bank robberies throughout Washington state and in Oregon, Montana, and California.  Investigators learned from witnesses that the robber typically waited in line as a customer before each robbery, then produced a note to a teller, in which she demanded cash and stated that she was armed, according to the press release.

The Bad Hair Bandit earned her nickname for the variety of wigs she wore during robberies, the press release stated. Personnel in the FBI Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Sacramento divisions, and in several local law enforcement agencies, collaborated on this investigation.

The following is a list of bank robberies or attempts attributed to the Bad Hair Bandit:

  • US Bank, Tacoma, WA—12/22/2010
  • Key Bank, Tumwater, WA—01/05/2011
  • Key Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/12/2011
  • Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway, WA—01/14/2011
  • Heritage Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/21/2011
  • Cathay Bank, Kent, WA—01/26/2011
  • First Security Bank, Redmond, WA—01/27/2011
  • US Bank, Auburn, WA—02/10/2011
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—02/19/2011
  • Sound Community Bank, Tacoma, WA—03/25/2011
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—04/09/2011
  • Cathay Bank, Bellevue, WA—04/21/2011
  • Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg, WA—04/26/2011
  • Key Bank, Moses Lake, WA—04/27/2011
  • Chase Bank, Spokane, WA—05/09/2011
  • Sterling Bank, Moses Lake, WA—06/07/2011
  • Key Bank, Lake Oswego, OR—07/01/2011
  • Yakima Federal, Richland, WA—07/18/2011
  • Bank of Butte, Butte, MT—08/11/2011
  • Bank of the West, Auburn, CA—08/15/2011

The FBI asks anyone who has information on the bank robberies above, or any bank robbery, to call the FBI Safe Streets Task Force at 206-262-2390; or, you can remain anonymous and earn up to $1,000 by calling 1-800-222-TIPS, the 24/7 tips line of the Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound. 

-- Information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation

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