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Getaway in a Taxi|Didn’t Work, FBI Says

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The FBI thinks it's nabbed San Francisco's Straw Hat Bandit after a string of bank robberies, thanks to a witness who saw him make a getaway in a taxi, and a note they found in his apartment that said, "This is a robbery. Remain calm and discreet."

A federal grand jury indicted Richard Laurence Stewart on Tuesday, accusing him of robbing three banks since May, and trying to rob another.

San Francisco police and the FBI think his robbery spree began a year ago, and though Stewart is not charged with the October 2014 robbery of a Chase Bank, that robber wore a floppy fedora and a fake mustache, as did the man who robbed the other banks.

The robber used other disguises too, including a wig, a fake beard and, according to the U.S. attorney, "a single surgical glove."

The four-count indictment charges him with robbing banks on May 13, Oct. 14 and 16, and trying to rob one on May 12.

As is usually the case with bank robbers, the Straw Hat Bandit didn't get much: $7,100 on May 13, $316 on Oct. 14 and $6,760 on Oct. 16 - an average haul of $4,725 - or $3,544, factoring in the zero on the first job.

The FBI said they found Stewart by tracing the phone number of the man who called the taxi after the May 13 holdup.

Stewart was arrested on Oct. 18 as police and the FBI searched his home. They found disguises, hats, a blue surgical glove and the "This is a robbery" note, the U.S. attorney said.

Bank robbery is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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