A former LAPD detective has been arrested in connection with a series of Orange County bank robberies, accused of being the so-called "Snowbird Bandit," officials said Thursday.
The "Snowbird Bandit," who allegedly robbed five Orange County banks since March, got his nickname because of his white hair, and the original suspicion that the bandit was in his late 50s to 60s.
Randolph Bruce Adair, 70, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested after several of his family members contacted Rancho Santa Margarita Sheriff's deputies, believing that Adair fit the description given in recent media reports.
With their help, the Orange County Bank Robbery Apprehension Team (BRAT) took Adair into custody in a Rancho Santa Margarita parking lot Wednesday.
Local news from across Southern California
Witnesses said a dozen undercover cars surrounded him in the parking lot and searched his car for hours.
Evidence connected Adair to the five recent south Orange County bank robberies in a follow up investigation, the Orange County Sheriff's Department said.
"That's actually horrible. You wouldn't think somebody with that kind of job would be doing something like that, hopefully," said Connie Smith, one of Adair's neighbors. "You're supposed to be stopping people from doing that."
He is suspected of the following five robberies:
7/21/15 — First Citizens Bank, Rancho Santa Margarita
7/06/15 — U.S. Bank, Ladera Ranch
6/11/15 — Wells Fargo Bank, Mission Viejo
5/22/15 — First Citizens Bank, Rancho Santa Margarita
3/20/15 — California Bank & Trust, Dana Point
The LAPD said that Adair worked as a detective from 1967 until his retirement in 1988, but would not comment on the case. During his last years on the job he was assigned to the Rampart Division.
"Even though he was a Los Angeles police officer he's not immune from those types things. I don't know exactly what the motive was in this particular case or cases, but I think it's typical that the motive has something to do with supporting a habit," said Lieutenant Jeff Hallock with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The "Snowbird Bandit" struck another bank as recently as Tuesday, walking into a First Citizens Bank branch in Rancho Santa Margarita, in what is believed to be his second robbery of the same location. The bandit was caught on surveillance footage wearing what appears to be the same straw hat worn in a separate robbery in Ladera Ranch.
During some of the robberies, the bandit brandished a revolver, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Adair was arrested for robbery and an outstanding warrant. He was booked at Orange County jail and is being held in lieu of $205,000 bail.
Investigators plan on pursuing federal charges against him, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
It was not immediately clear if Adair had retained legal counsel.
Tena Ezzeddine contributed to this report.