ONTARIO – Inland area law enforcement was abuzz with news of last week’s capture of the “Field Hat Bandit,” a bank robber believed to have committed a wide range of larcenies.
Michael Ziegler, 33, tagged by the FBI as the so-called bandit, has been in custody since Sept. 13 at the West Valley Detention Center.
“So many people were interested in it that we got (a news release) out very fast,” said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller. “This is a big case, a big investigation.”
According to that release, sheriff’s deputies from the Rancho Cucamonga substation received a call about 3:40 p.m. last Monday at the Citibank at 10590 Base Line Road. As deputies arrived, the robbery suspect got into a vehicle and drove north on Haven Avenue at a high rate of speed.
Deputies described Ziegler driving his car onto the eastbound 210 freeway and reaching speeds of more than 100 mph. Police threw a spike strip onto the freeway near Cherry Avenue, and flattened two tires, thus ending the pursuit.
Police used a Taser to subdue Ziegler, who was attempting to resist.
“It all happened so fast,” said Miller. “It took about 10 minutes from the time the call was received until the arrest.”
Ziegler is suspected of robbing Chase banks in Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, as well as in Chicago, authorities said in quoting FBI sources.
Ontario police said they strongly suspect Ziegler in two Citibank robberies in Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, on Aug. 30 and Sept. 8.
According to the FBI, Ziegler, who is a resident of Fontana, always wore a loose hat during the robberies, presenting a demand note and always asked for the note’s return before departing the bank.
Miller said deputies did not realize they were in pursuit of the “Field Hat Bandit” at the time of the Sept. 13 call.
Law enforcement agencies in Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario were quick to contact both the sheriff’s office and the FBI, since bank robbery is a federal crime.
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