TEMECULA – A 38-year-old woman suspected of robbing eight banks within the past month was just arrested last week despite a previous routine traffic stop between two of her heists.
Temecula police didn’t initially connect Silvia Helen Garcia, of Downey, to the robberies when they stopped her for a speeding violation during the period of her bank heists that started on July 12. FBI agents later arrested the “Plain Jane Bandit,” who drew national attention for her robberies, which consisted of a mild-mannered approach to the crimes during which she was reportedly unarmed.
Because of the high-profile media attentions, FBI agents apparently received a tip on Garcia’s identity. A $10,000 reward was offered by the FBI for her capture and ultimate conviction. Garcia, who appeared sometimes smiling in the surveillance photos during her crimes, is suspected in the robberies of Chase and U.S. Bank in Moreno Valley, Wildomar, Santa Fe Springs and Buena Park, covering Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties. In one spree, she is suspected of robbing four banks in a 24-hour span.
Described as a short, stocky woman in her mid-30s, casually dressed and with “average looks”, according to witnesses, she typically presented notes to tellers that demanded money. She had a scar on her neck, wore a sweatshirt or t-shirt and sometimes wore sunglasses. , Garcia once told a bank teller in Santa Fe Springs that she had an accomplice waiting outside. An FBI spokesman, however, said there is no evidence of anyone else assisting Garcia.
Her string of robberies began in the L.A. County community of Buena Park on July 12th. On July 24 Garcia was pulled over by Temecula police and cited for speeding while driving a silver 2008 Volkswagen Jetta on Pechanga Parkway. Later that day, she was suspected of robbing a Wildomar bank. She robbed two other banks on July 30 and 31.
Garcia is awaiting formal charges while being jailed in Los Angeles County.
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