The bank robber who was nicknamed the “Poodle Bandit” by law authorities because of his fluffy gray wig, was apprehended Thursday in Ripon after allegedly robbing a bank in Modesto.
The suspect, identified as Belko Yovanovich, 52, of Sacramento was wanted for a string of bank robberies in Central California, including one on April 29 in Turlock.
Yovanovich was captured Thursday after he robbed an Oak Valley Bank in Modesto, according to the Modesto Police Department. At least two witnesses saw Yovanovich fleeing the bank and provided enough information to the police department that helped officers apprehend Yovanovich after a vehicle pursuit that ended in Ripon.
According to the Modesto Police Department, Yovanovich entered the bank at 4120 Dale Rd. around 5 p.m. Thursday. The suspect pulled out a handgun and demanded money from the teller.
A person outside the bank saw a man run from the bank with the stolen cash and called 911. The witness was able to give the police a detailed description of the suspect’s clothing and his direction of flight, said Modesto Police Sgt. Rick Armendariz.
A second witness observed the suspect get into a dark gray pickup with a camper shell, which was parked nearby. This citizen also called 911 and provided police with the suspect vehicle description, Armendariz said.
Responding officers immediately converged into the area and began to canvas the neighborhood for the vehicle. A nearby officer observed the suspect vehicle near the Vintage Mall corridor and attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the suspect, however, the suspect failed to pull over. The suspect instead led officers in a vehicle pursuit, which went northbound on Highway 99, into the city limits of Ripon. Officers were able to conduct a Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuver on the suspect vehicle and end the chase at W. Milgeo Avenue and Arc Way in Ripon, Armendariz said. Once the chase was over Yovanovich was taken into custody without further incident.
“The Modesto Police Department could not have located and ultimately arrested the suspect without the help of these very helpful and concerned citizens,” said Lt. Chris Fuzie, assistant commander of the Modesto Police Department’s Investigation Division. “Their information was invaluable in adding our officers in solving this crime.”
Thursday’s robbery matched details with five other bank robberies, in which Yovanovich is now the prime suspect.
In all the robberies the suspect wore a dark-colored blazer, blue jeans and black gloves. He topped his disguise off with a fake mustache and a curly gray wig that because of its likeness to a dog’s mane, earned the suspect the “Poodle Bandit” moniker by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Yovanovich’s alleged robbery spree began on March 8 with a bank robbery in Tracy. He is also believed to have robbed banks in Elk grove, Fresno and Bakersfield. Authorities suspect Yovanovich robbed the Rabobank at 2190 West Monte Vista Ave. on April 29.
No one was injured during the robberies, according to authorities.
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