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FBI turns up heat in hunt for San Francisco bank robbers

The Up Close Bandit.
August 6, 2013 6:24:38 PM PDT
Federal and local law enforcement officials are asking for the public's help in catching brazen bank robbers before somebody gets hurt.

They're athletic, dangerous bank robbers working hard to steal the money, and they're hitting banks in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

The first group is called the High Jumper Bandits. The three bank robbers are described as black men wearing thick jackets, gloves, hoodies and scarves to disguise their faces.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says in every robbery so far, the robbers have pointed guns at bank tellers and even pistol whipped one.

All of the heists have been takeover robberies where the crew jumps over the counter and grabs cash from tellers, before escaping on foot.

"Very concerned about the violence associated with the High Jumper Bandits and that's why it's a priority for this office as well as local law enforcement," said FBI Special Agent David Johnson.

All of the banks have been in San Francisco except the Cathay Bank on El Camino Real in Millbrae.

Security cameras show a robber jumping over the counter at Cathay Bank while another man points a gun at tellers.

The FBI believes the group's first robbery was on April 19 at the Wells Fargo Bank on Irving Street in San Francisco. They say they were busy on June 3, robbing two banks; the one in Millbrae and a Metropolitan Bank branch on Powell Street in San Francisco. In July, they reportedly hit the Bank of America on Taraval Street.

Last Thursday, the FBI says the robbers took over the First Republic Bank on Geary Boulevard.

The agency is also looking for a second bank robber. They dubbed the man the Up Close Bandit because the clarity of his face in a security video. They believe he's hit at least two banks but he hasn't been as violent as the high jumpers.

"He's simulating as if he has a weapon underneath his clothing. He never displays the weapon and if I'm not mistaken, he utilizes a note," said Johnson.

Since last October, 160 banks have been robbed in what the FBI calls, the San Francisco jurisdiction. That area begins at the Oregon/California border and extends south to Monterey.


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