Empty Pockets Bandit Makes Case For New Name

A bank robber dubbed the "Empty Pockets" bandit held up two banks in Orange County within a half-hour Thursday afternoon, says Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities, including the FBI, are at the scene of the second heist at a Downey Savings office inside a Ralphs supermarket in Aliso Viejo.

Amormino said the bandit hit at 2 p.m., Wednesday at a Bank of America branch at 30241 Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel. The robber escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash in that heist, Amormino said.

Unlike his earlier failed efforts, his target Wednesday was not a stand-alone branch, but a bank branch inside an Albertsons supermarket.

Amormino also said Wednesday was the first time the bank robber displayed a gun to tellers. In previous attempts, no gun was shown.

"I don't know if we're going to have to change his name, but it definitely was the Empty Pockets bandit," he said.

The bandit's last failed effort came on Monday when he tried to rob a Bank of America branch in Aliso Viejo. His earlier botched attempt occurred Nov. 26 when he tried to rob a Washington Mutual branch in Mission Viejo, Amormino said.

"In both cases, he presented a 'demand note' to the teller, but something scared him, and he fled -- with empty pockets," Amormino said. "He appeared nervous."

Surveillance photos were released of the man, described as being in his late 30s to early 40s, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and weighing about 200 pounds. Amormino said the bandit may be a mix of white and Filipino, and a witness
heard him speaking Filipino on the phone.

The robber should be considered armed and dangerous, Amormino said.

Anyone with information about the robber was urged to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 714-628-7170.

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