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Police nab suspected bank robber

A Merced man is facing multiple criminal charges after Turlock Police detectives linked him to a series of bank robberies in the Central Valley, including one in Turlock in February.

The suspect’s luck at remaining unidentified came to an end when he tried to increase his stolen loot by playing poker, according to the Turlock Police Department.

The Turlock robbery was reported at 10:22 a.m. Feb. 25 at the PNC Bank at 1955 Geer Rd. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male between 40 and 45 years of age, wearing a Jordan brand hooded sweatshirt and black watch cap. The suspect was last seen running from the bank heading westbound on Pedras Road.

Surveillance footage from the bank of the suspect was released to media and put on social media on Feb. 27.

The following day, the police department got a call from an individual at the Turlock Poker Room regarding a suspicious person. The caller stated the man matched the description of the bank robbery suspect and was using small denominations of cash for large gaming buy-ins.

Officers contacted the man and conducted a field interview, gathering his personal and vehicle information. The man denied being involved in the robbery.

The investigation continued and on March 9, detectives obtained surveillance footage from a neighboring business, which is adjacent to PNC Bank. The video showed the responsible vehicle from the day of the robbery, which matched the vehicle associated with the man contacted at the Turlock Poker Room.

The suspect was identified as Moses Hanaulii Lira, 40, of Merced. With the new information from the surveillance footage, Turlock detectives and the crime analyst were able to start linking Lira to other robberies in the Central Valley.

Lira was arrested and remains in custody at the Sacramento County Jail on robbery charges from an unrelated bank robbery. Lira has a warrant for the Turlock robbery and will be brought back to Stanislaus County to face charges.

“Our staff remains committed to solving these types of crimes and holding criminals accountable for their actions,” said Turlock Police Capt. Miguel Pacheco. “The hard work of our officers and professional staff is an example of their dedication to provide for the safety of our community. I would also like to thank the community members who called in about Lira’s suspicious activity which helped with his identification.”

“At times it can feel like crime is happening and nothing is being done,” said Chief Jason Hedden. “Our residents and business owners can rest assured, our team is working hard behind the scenes to bring those who commit crime in Turlock to justice, and this is a good example to their tenacity and commitment to solving crime in our community.”

Turlock Police Department staff ask that anyone with information regarding this investigation to call Detective Kevin Blanc at (209) 668-6540. You can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.