Suspected Bank Robber Chased, Crashes, Caught in Rialto

Suspected Bank Robber Chased, Crashes, Caught in Rialto

RIALTO – A bank robbery suspect, wanted in connection with another theft, was chased down on a high speed pursuit by law enforcement officers before he crashed just off the 215-freeway Thursday afternoon, a scene caught on live Southern California television.

Stephen Richard Bartlett, 53, was later identified as the “Hills Bandit,” who is the chief suspect in several Southern California bank robberies.

The pursuit began in Santa Fe Springs, about an hour west of the crash site, covering four counties. The crash, which was caught on live television, concluded when the rented flat-bed truck he was driving landed on its side.

Bartlett climbed out of the truck, his hands raised, as armed officers surrounded him, cautiously taking him into custody. They were seen approaching the truck with their firearms drawn.

Along the way, Bartlett led chasing law enforcement authorities for about 90 minutes. Whittier police initiated the chase when a commercial steel business in Santa Fe Springs was alerted about an alleged fraud. Reports said that Bartlett drove away from the business with $12,000 in steel in the back of the truck. Police attempted to stop the truck, but Bartlett decided to flee.

The pursuit took place through Santa Fe Springs, neighboring Whittier and La Habra, then into Brea, then through Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and, finally, San Bernardino counties.

During the pursuit, police said Bartlett threw a gun, later identified as a replica, out of the truck. He used the 57, 60, 15 and 215 freeways with live aerial coverage showcasing multiple agencies chasing.

Bartlett, who is wanted for a string of bank robberies in Orange County and also in Santa Barbara, was wanted on suspicion of grand theft auto. During the pursuit, Bartlett led officers through city surface streets, at one point entering the freeway in the wrong direction. He also pulled a U-turn in the middle lanes on the freeway.

At one point, Bartlett stopped the truck on the freeway, got out of the truck, attempted to jump a fence, but got back into the truck before officers could close in.

Eventually, Riverside police took control of the chase, according to eventual reports. When the truck approached the State St. exit on the westbound side, Bartlett sped recklessly across four lanes, appearing to lose control.

The pursuit ended when the truck ventured off the side of the 210 freeway, down an embankment and coming to a stop along the border between San Bernardino and Rialto. As the truck wheeled down the embankment, it struck a wall, going airborne before landing on its side.

At first, Bartlett apparently did not suffer any injuries, but he was treated for minor injuries at hospital located near the crash site. Whittier police booked him on charges of felony theft, felony evading, felony vehicle embezzlement, numerous warrants on bank robbery charges and two hit-and-run collisions.

Read More:

Orange County Register: ‘Hills Bandit’ suspect arrested

Crime Scene Blog: Serial Bank robbery suspect arrested after chase

KTAL: Driver in lengthy pursuit ID’d as bank robber

Suspected Bank Robber Chased, Crashes, Caught in Rialto was last modified: January 14th, 2019 by admin
Categories: California