H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Aug 27, 2013 7:08 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Central Coast Bandit suspect charged

The Central Coast Bandit suspect has been charged with nine counts of second degree burglary and robbery and two counts of attempted robbery

Cristina Padilla, 50, of Watsonville was arrested Friday night after a woman resembling the bank robber known as 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.

Padilla was booked on charges for a string of bank robberies on the Central Coast.

In an interview at San Luis Obispo County Jail Monday night with KSBY's Caroline Lowe, Padilla admitted she was a bank robber.

In the criminal complaint from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office, Padilla was convicted of first degree burglary in January of 2005 in Monterey County.

The robbery and burglary charges in the complaint are from four of the banks that were linked to the Central Coast Bandit.

During her interview at the county jail, Padilla told Lowe she was desperate for money to buy food and school uniforms for her 11-year-old daughter.

She said she never wanted to hurt anybody and remained calm so as not to frighten people.

Padilla also said she admitted her string of robberies to a detective who interviewed her Friday night after she was arrested.

Padilla insisted she never used a gun during the bank robberies, but admitted to Lowe that she gave a teller a note implying she had a loaded weapon.

She said she averaged about $1,000 per robbery, chose smaller banks that didn't have security guards and chose banks on the Central Coast where people would not recognize her.

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

She will make her first court appearance Wednesday morning and will have an opportunity to enter a plea.

She is being held on $290,000 bond.

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