The Westamerica Bank in San Anselmo’s Red Hill Shopping Center on Thursday became the latest target of the so-called "Cotton Ball Bandit," an alleged serial bank robber who has robbed eight Marin banks since December 2012.
Central Marin Police Authority officers received a report of the robbery at 9:23 a.m. Thursday and quickly surrounded the Westamerica branch. But they determined the suspect had already left the bank with an undisclosed amount of money — he was last spotted walking in the Red Hill Shopping Center parking lot.
Police detectives linked the suspect to similar bank robberies in Greenbrae, Corte Madera, Mill Valley and San Rafael. Last month the FBI issued a $2,500 reward to anyone who can help find the suspect, named the “Cotton Ball Bandit” after the pom-pom ball atop the brown knit hat with earflaps he wore to each robbery.
Similarly to the prior robberies, a white man in his 40’s walked up to a teller demanded money from a teller and never brandished a weapon, police said.
He was described as being unshaven with a mustache and wearing a dark baseball hat, a dark jacket over a dark colored shirt, black gloves and boots.
The alleged serial bank robber has consistently walked into a bank and presented a teller with a note demanding money. He is described as about 6’ with a medium build. In past robberies, he has worn a brown knit beanie and has worn a black rain coat, black leather gloves and eye glasses.
The other seven robberies include:
- A Dec. 12, 2012 robbery of the Chase Bank at 401 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Greenbrae.
- A Jan. 9 robbery at Union Bank on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Greenbrae.
- An attempted bank robbery on Jan. 22 at Union Bank in the Strawberry Village shopping center.
- July 17, 2013 at Chase Bank at 437 Corte Madera Town Center
- An Aug. 2 robbery of the Citibank, 101 Tiburon Boulevard, in the Strawberry Village shopping center.
- Aug. 21 at the Wells Fargo Bank in the Corte Madera Town Center
- A Sept. 4 robbery at the Redwood Credit Union in San Rafael’s Montecito Plaza Center.
The FBI can be reached 24 hours a day at 415-553-7400 in the San Francisco area. All calls are confidential and tips can be left anonymously. Tips can also be submitted online at: https://tips.fbi.gov/