SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The FBI on Thursday announced the arrest of a Bakersfield man they believe is the suspect in at least five bank robberies, four in Orange County.
The fifth robbery attributed to the suspect occurred in Valencia, the FBI said.
Brian Lee Bellman, 35, was arrested Wednesday night in Covina by members of the FBI’s Bank Robbery Apprehension Team in Orange County (BRAT).
Bellman was held overnight in Santa Ana. He was scheduled to have an initial appearance in United States District Court in Orange County Thursday afternoon.
BART is investigating whether Bellman may be responsible for additional robberies.
In a criminal complaint, Bellman was accused of stealing $5,205 from East West Bank in Irvine on Feb. 16, 2016. The FBI said he went into a Valencia bank on Feb. 10 and demanded $6,000. They said he left the bank with $824. At a bank in Brea, he is accused of walking in on Feb. 12 and leaving with $2,413. Also on the 12th, the FBI said he walked into a bank in Yorba Linda and demanded money. He allegedly left that bank with $2,000. The FBI says he committed another armed robbery at an Anaheim bank on Feb. 16. In that heist he allegedly stole $222.
Investigators tracked Bellman through distinctive clothing and weaponry used in the heists. Officials said Bellman was seen on video purchasing the weapon (a pellet gun) at a Walmart and t-shirt with a B on it at Tilly’s.
Multiple agencies participated in the investigation of the Whitewashed Bandit series of robberies, including: Brea PD; Irvine PD; Anaheim PD; Covina PD; Bakersfield PD; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and the FBI’s Sacramento and Los Angeles Field Offices.
The FBI’s Orange County Resident Agency and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department participate on the BRAT in Orange County and work collaboratively with multiple partner departments where banks are robbed, the FBI said.