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 Padilla pleads not guilty to charges related to alleged bank robberies
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1 year ago

Padilla pleads not guilty to charges related to alleged bank robberies

A 50-year-old Watsonville woman accused of being the Central Coast Bandit pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all charges against her.

Cristina Padilla is charged with nine counts of second degree burglary and robbery and two counts of attempted robbery.

These charges are related to bank robberies in Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Nipomo, and Atascadero.

Padilla pleaded not guilty after admitting to KSBY's Caroline Lowe in an interview on Monday that she was indeed a bank robber. She told Lowe she also made that admission to an investigator the night she was arrested.

Padilla was taken into custody after a woman resembling the Central Coast Bandit was seen at a bank in San Luis Obispo on Friday.

Police and the California Highway Patrol followed the woman's car until the chase ended in a crash in Paso Robles.

During her interview at San Luis Obispo County Jail, Padilla told Lowe she was desperate for money to buy food and school uniforms for her 11-year-old daughter.

She also insisted she never used a gun during the bank robberies, but admitted she gave a teller a note implying she had a loaded weapon.

Because of the seriousness of the crime, if Padilla is convicted, she will be sent to state prison.

Padilla was convicted of first degree burglary back in 2005 in Monterey County.

Her bail has been set at $1 million.

Padilla is also charged with fleeing an officer and assault with a deadly weapon, the car she was allegedly driving during the police chase.

Padilla will appear in court again on September 4th.

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1 year ago

Suspected Central Coast Bandit makes first court appearance

The suspected Central Coast Bandit appeared in a San Luis Obispo courtroom for the first time Wednesday morning.

Cristina Padilla has been charged with nine counts of second degree burglary and robbery and two counts of attempted robbery.

She is also charged with fleeing an officer and assault with a deadly weapon.

She pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Bail has been set at $1 million.

She is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 4.

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1 year ago

EXCLUSIVE:Central Coast Bandit suspect admits to robberies in KSBY interview

A 50-year-old Watsonville woman police call the the Central Coast Bandit admitted to KSBY News Monday night she robbed a half dozen banks.

During an interview at the San Luis Obispo County jail, Cristina Fernandez Padilla said she was desperate for money to buy food and school uniforms for her eleven-year-old daughter.

"I never wanted to hurt anybody and remained calm so not to frighten people," said Padilla.

She said she admitted her string of robberies to a detective who interviewed her Friday night after she was arrested after a police chase.

Padilla said she is remorseful about the crimes and was relieved when police caught her in Paso Robles.

She told KSBY that she told her daughter she was going out to cash a check Friday night and that the girl now thinks her mom is in jail for speeding.

Padilla said she plans to tell her daughter the truth someday and that "people have to pay the consequences when they do things they shouldn't."

She insisted she never used a gun during the bank robberies but admitted giving a teller a note implying she had a loaded weapon.

Padilla said she averaged about a thousand dollars per robbery and chose the smaller banks that didn't have security guards.

She also said she chose to rob banks on the Central Coast where she was not likely to be recognized.

Asked how she felt about admitting to the robberies, she said, "It felt good to get it off my shoulder."

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1 year ago

Exclusive interview with Central Coast Bandit suspect

KSBY News talked exclusively with Cristina Padilla at the San Luis Obispo County Jail on Monday evening.

Local law enforcement agencies say she is the prolific bank robber known as the Central Coast Bandit.

Padilla is in custody on charges related to the robberies of four San Luis Obispo County banks. She's also suspected of robbing banks in Pacific Grove and Modesto.

Tune in to KSBY News at 10 on the CW and at 11 on KSBY to hear what Padilla told our Caroline Lowe about the crimes.

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1 year ago

Photo of Central Coast Bandit suspect released

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office on Monday released the mugshot of the woman suspected of being the Central Coast Bandit.

Cristina Padilla, 50, of Watsonville, was arrested on Friday after a woman resembling the Central Coast Bandit was seen at a bank in San Luis Obispo. Police and the California Highway Patrol followed the woman's car until the chase ended in a crash in Paso Robles on Friday.

Padilla is currently in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail on $290,000 bail. Police say she was booked on charges for robberies committed in Atascadero, Nipomo, Paso Robles, and Pismo Beach, along with reckless driving and assault.

In addition, she is suspected of committing bank robberies in Pacific Grove and Modesto.

The Sheriff's Office says Padilla's arrest concludes a multi-agency effort to capture the prolific bank robbery known as the Central Coast Bandit.

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1 year ago

Police name Central Coast Bandit suspect

Pacific Grove Police have identified the woman arrested Friday, who authorities believe is the Central Coast Bandit, as Cristina Fernandez Padilla, 50, of Watsonville.

She was arrested after a woman resembling the Central Coast Bandit was seen at a bank in San Luis Obispo. Police and the California Highway Patrol followed the woman's car until the chase ended in a crash in Paso Robles on Friday.

Padilla is currently in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail on $290,000 bail. Police say she was booked on charges for robberies committed in Atascadero, Nipomo, Paso Robles, and Pismo Beach, along with reckless driving and assault.

In addition, she is suspected of committing bank robberies in Pacific Grove and Modesto.

Pacific Grove Police say search warrants have been served on Padilla's home and vehicle in Watsonville, along with the rental car police say she drove on Friday.

Police say the investigation is continuing and authorities are deciding whether to handle the case locally or federally.

No San Luis Obispo County law enforcement agencies or the FBI are commenting on the case at this time.

1 year ago

Woman matching description of Central Coast bandit booked in county jail

A woman matching the description of the Central Coast bandit was booked in the San Luis Obispo County jail Friday, just a few hours after officials arrested a woman in connection with an attempted bank robbery and car chase.

According to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's arrest log, 50-year-old Cristina Fernandez Padilla was booked in the county jail at 11:15 p.m. Friday, charged with counts of robbery in Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Atascadero. According to the log, she was also booked on counts of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm and evading officers.

Her bail is set at $290,000.

Officials have not confirmed if this is, in fact, the Central Coast Bandit.

On Saturday, officials with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office told KSBY more information will be made available in the next few days.

1 year ago

Woman in custody police believe may be Central Coast Bandit

San Luis Obispo Police say a woman is in custody, who they believe may be the Central Coast Bandit.

Police received a report of an attempted bank robbery at the Golden 1 Credit Union on Foothill Boulevard around 5:00 PM on Friday.

They say a woman walked into the bank and started making small talk with the teller. The teller became suspicious, pushed an alarm, and the woman left the bank. Police say officers were already close by and began following a car that matched the description the bank provided.

The California Highway Patrol took over the chase on Highway 101, eventually stopped the car in Paso Robles, and took the woman driver into custody.

Police say at this time, she is only facing a charge of evading police, but they are continuing to investigate her possible involvement in the attempted bank robbery.

Police tell us there is a good likelihood that the woman in custody may be the Central Coast Bandit, a prolific bank robber wanted for six bank robberies, most of which occurred on the Central Coast.

Her most recent robbery was a little more than a week ago at the Pacific Western Bank in Pismo Beach on August 14. She is also wanted for bank robberies in Paso Robles, Nipomo, Atascadero, Modesto, and Pacific Grove.

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1 year ago

Latest on the Central Coast Bandit investigation

Investigators are busy chasing leads a day after the latest robbery by the Central Coast Bandit.

The female robber is still on the loose, but police say there are some patterns that could lead to a break in the case.

According to the FBI, women are involved only about 4-6% of the time and it's even more rare for them to be serial bank robbers.

"Really, when we talk about patterns, we talk about pre-incident patterns, putting cops on dots," said Pismo Beach Police Commander Jake Miller.

So far, the patterns left behind by the Central Coast Bandit are limited. Since December 31st of 2012, a woman described as 5'2" to 5'6", in her mid-40s to mid-50s, and about 160 pounds has hit bank after bank along the Central Coast.

Investigators say her confidence could be growing after robbing four banks in just the last two months.

The robbery spree began in December in Pacific Grove, near Monterey. Her next stops included Atascadero, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Modesto, and just this Wednesday in Pismo Beach.

"Once we start investigating the crime, forensics is a big part," said Commander Miller.

Investigators have attempted to obtain fingerprints at each scene; however, if hers are not located in any of the national crime databases, those prints do little good until she is caught. That's when they can be used to connect her to the robberies.

Some of her patterns include hitting small banks attached to other businesses and located in smaller communities. She also tends to hit them in the middle of the month and the FBI says the robberies seem to mostly occur along the Highway 101 corridor.

Investigators say their best clues are the high quality bank surveillance photos. They hope someone will recognize her and call them before she strikes again.

According to the FBI, someone is considered a serial bank robber after being involved in two robberies.

San Luis Obispo County has had a high number of bank robberies this year compared to years past. In 2009, there were 8 bank robberies. There were none in 2010, two in 2011, and three in 2012. So far this year, there have been 10 bank robberies in San Luis Obispo County.

At this point, investigators say the Central Coast Bandit has been linked to three different vehicles, although none have produced a confirmed license plate number.

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1 year ago

Central Coast Bandit strikes again

The FBI says a woman known as the Central Coast Bandit is believed responsible for a bank robbery in Pismo Beach on Wednesday.

The Pismo Beach Police Department says the Pacific Western Bank on Oak Park Boulevard was robbed just before 2:30 pm.

They say the robber passed a note to the teller demanding money. No weapon was seen during the robbery.

She was described as being in her 40s or 50s, 5'2"-5'6" tall, and weighing 150-165 pounds. She was wearing a blue v-neck t-shirt with "Garden Isle of Kauai" on the front. She also wore a straw hat and black, thick-framed glasses.

The description matches that of the Central Coast Bandit, a woman now wanted for a total of six bank robberies, most of which occurred on the Central Coast:
Dec. 31, 2012 - Monterey Credit Union, Pacific Grove
Feb. 14, 2013 - Pacific Western Bank, Atascadero
June 27, 2013 - CoastHills Federal Credit Union, Nipomo
July 16, 2013 - Golden 1 Federal Credit Union, Paso Robles
July 18, 2013 - Farmers & Merchants Bank, Modesto
Aug. 14, 2013 - Pacific Western Bank, Pismo Beach

The FBI says the Central Coast Bandit has been seen carrying a pistol during some of the robberies. According to witness accounts, she has also been seen leaving bank robberies in a gray sedan or gold SUV.

Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the robber is urged to call 911.

Wednesday's robbery at the Pacific Western Bank in Pismo Beach brings the total number of bank robberies in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties this year to eleven:
Feb. 14 - Pacific Western Bank, Atascadero
May 25 - Chase Bank, San Luis Obispo
June 7 - Bank of America, Atascadero
June 18 - Wells Fargo, Paso Robles
June 25 - Citibank, Atascadero
June 27 - CoastHills Federal Credit Union, Nipomo
July 16 - Golden 1 Credit Union, Paso Robles
July 24 - Bank of America, San Luis Obispo
July 31 - Rabobank, Goleta
August 8 - CoastHills Federal Credit Union, Atascadero
August 14 - Pacific Western Bank, Pismo Beach

Two people are in custody in connection with three of the bank robberies. Steven Celaya, 32, of San Luis Obispo, turned himself in to police in June. He claims responsibility for robbing the Chase Bank in San Luis Obispo and the Bank of America in Atascadero. Police arrested Andrew Gilbertson, 38, of Paso Robles, on suspicion of robbing the Bank of America in San Luis Obispo.

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1 year ago

Central Coast Bandit suspected in another bank robbery

It appears the so-called Central Coast Bandit has struck again, this time in Modesto.

The FBI tells KSBY, a woman matching the description of a bank robber who hit the Golden 1 Credit Union in Paso Robles on Tuesday robbed the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Modesto on Thursday.

It happened around 5:00 pm, just like the robbery in Paso Robles.

This time, a pistol was seen, and the robber got away in a gray-colored sedan.

She is described as a Hispanic woman in her 40s, about 5'5" and 140 pounds.

The FBI believes she is the same person who also robbed banks in Nipomo and Atascadero earlier this year and in Pacific Grove at the end of 2012.

Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect is urged to contact their nearest FBI office or dial 911.

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1 year ago

Central Coast bandit wanted by the FBI

The FBI is looking for a female bank robber who they've dubbed the Central Coast bandit.

Since December of 2012, the FBI says the Central Coast bandit robbed three local banks and attempted to rob another. They say she is also wanted for holding up a bank in Monterey County.

The FBI says the robber is 35 to 45 years-old, Hispanic or white, 5-foot 7-inches tall and about 150 to 160 pounds.

The string of robberies began on Valentine's Day when authorities say the robber held up Pacific Western Bank in Atascadero. The next bank hold-up was in Nipomo at the Coast Hills Federal Credit Union on June 26.

The latest was on Tuesday in Paso Robles at the Golden One Credit Union in the 100 block of Niblick Rd. The Central Coast bandit got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, and according to the note she handed the teller, she was armed. Police say no gun was ever seen.

The FBI is now asking for the public's help. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for a reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Robbing a bank is a felony and someone can be in prison for 25 years or more.

According to FBI statistics, bank robberies committed by women are on the rise. The reason a woman usually robs a bank is because of a financial crunch rather than a thrill.

No one was injured in any of the robberies. However, area banks do say they are tightening security to make sure their employees and customers are safe.

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1 year ago

FBI looking for female serial bank robber on Central Coast

The FBI is looking for a female robber they have named the "Central Coast Bandit."

The FBI said Wednesday afternoon the same woman has held up four banks, the most recent one on Tuesday in Paso Robles. They have also linked her to robberies in Nipomo, Atascadero and Pacific Grove.

Anyone who has information on the case is asked to contact the Los Angeles office of the FBI at 310-477-6565

Watch KSBY News at 5 and 6 for the latest on this developing story.

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1 year ago

UPDATE: Woman robs bank in Paso Robles

Authorities are looking for a woman who robbed a bank in Paso Robles on Tuesday afternoon.

Paso Robles Police say it happened just after 5:00 pm at the Golden 1 Credit Union on the 100 block of Niblick Road.

Investigators say the robber mentioned having a weapon, demanded money, and then left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The woman is described as Hispanic, 35-40 years old, 5'7", 150 to 160 pounds, wearing dark-framed eye glasses, a turquoise t-shirt, tan hat, black purse, and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP, submit a tip online at http://slotips.org/, or text "SLOTIPS" plus your message to CRIMES (274637).

1 year ago

Bank robbery in Paso Robles

Authorities are responding to a bank robbery in Paso Robles.

It happened Tuesday afternoon at the Golden 1 Credit Union on Niblick Road.

The FBI confirms it is sending an investigator to the scene.

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