LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles man deployed scary-but-fake remote control bombs to rob banks from Santa Monica to West Covina, and was indicted last week, the FBI announced Saturday.
William Joseph Allen, 32, allegedly dropped off packages of electronic components and wiring as he told tellers that someone outside the bank would detonate the bomb if his flight was interrupted.
Some of the robbery notes said the suspect had a friend outside the bank who was monitoring police radio frequencies and whom he would advise to “press a button” if the victim alerted police. One note warned that the “establishment will not exist.”
Allen was dubbed the “Explosives Threat Bandit” by the FBI. He was charged in an eight-count indictment for bank robbery and attempted bank robbery for capers in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, El Monte, Baldwin Park and West Covina by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, the FBI announced Saturday.
Allen was arrested April 17 in downtown Los Angeles by Los Angeles Police Department officers, and remained in federal custody awaiting trial, according to LAPD reports.
The string of eight bank robberies and attempted bank robberies began Nov. 15 at a Bank of America in West Covina and ended at a Wells Fargo in Santa Monica on March 29.
Santa Monica police detectives first identified Allen as a suspect in a series of robberies that had been linked to the “Explosives Threat Bandit” after developing forensic evidence collected at that last heist, according to FBI agent Laura Eimiller. Once Allen was identified as a suspect, investigators conducting a joint investigation obtained an arrest warrant.
The joint investigation consisted of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the West Covina, El Monte and Baldwin Park police departments.
During some of the robberies, the suspect would indicate or state that he had a bomb. The device and associated threats required various Los Angeles County bomb squads to respond to banks in order to render the situation safe — and each process that lasted several hours and required a lot of manpower, the FBI said.
In other robberies, witnesses described a handgun brandished by the suspect. During the robberies, the suspect ordered or passed notes to the teller, demanding cash.