Jul 28, 2014

FBI Nabs Suspected "Hypnotist Bandit"

Wide-eyed robbery suspect put a spell on tellers.

FBI Nabs Suspected "Hypnotist Bandit"

He's known as the Hypnotist Bandit for the trance-like effect his large dark eyes had on bank tellers around Southern California. But police say he was the one who was out of it — when he decided to rob a bank in the same building as a field office of the FBI.

Federal agents say the the suspect hit a series of banks throughout Los Angeles County in May and June, each time passing a note to tellers that read "This is a robbery," and urging them to make it "quick and easy."

But the Hypnotist Bandit couldn't cast a spell on the unblinking eyes of bank surveillance cameras, which captured high-quality images of the alleged robber on multiple occasions.

“I’ve never seen better,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told Patch, referring to the images.

But the alleged bandit's big blunder came on Monday, when he decided to rob a bank in the same building where the FBI has a field office in Ventura, 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

After the robbery, FBI agents themselves witnessed a man fitting the description of the Hypnotist Bandit as he left the building. Agents were apparently immune to effects of his spellbinding stare, because soon they had him in custody. The FBI identified the alleged culprit as Manuel Jose Hernandez, 28, of Los Angeles.

Although Hernandez was charged only with the Ventura robbery, federal authorities said investigations were continuing into the Los Angeles County heists.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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