Arroyo Grande man robbed seven banks
January 6, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
An Arroyo Grande man pled guilty Thursday in federal court to several bank robberies.
As part of his plea agreement, Robert Todd Bruce, 51, agreed to reimburse the seven banks he confessed to holding up while only pleading guilty to three of the robberies. He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Shortly after Bruce became homeless in Nov. 2008, he began to devise a scheme to take money by force and threats of violence, his plea agreement says.
On Nov. 22, 2008, Bruce robbed a Washington Mutual Bank branch in Santa Barbara. He passed the teller a note demanding cash and said, “Don’t touch any buttons.” He then fled the bank with $2,720.
Two weeks later, on Dec. 4, 2008, Bruce entered a Bank of America branch located on Spring Street in Paso Robles. He again handed the teller a note demanding cash and this time threatened to kill the bank employee.
“If you don’t, I’ll kill you,” and “Don’t talk or I’ll kill you,” Bruce said, according to the plea agreement.
The teller turned over $4,800 to Bruce.
Bruce again waited about two weeks before he handed a teller at a Rabobank on Price Street in Pismo Beach a note demanding monies. At first, the Rabobank employee did not comply with his demands.
However, after the robber brazenly displayed a semi-automatic handgun, the teller surrendered $1,006 to Bruce, the agreement says.
The serial bandit then left the Central Coast and headed to Sacramento where he robbed a Washington Mutual Bank branch on Dec. 30, 2008. Bruce ordered the teller to empty out the top drawer and fled with only $825.
Less than a week later, on Jan. 5, 2009, Bruce handed a note demanding cash to a teller at a Fargo Bank branch in Auburn. This time he ordered the teller to empty out both the top and bottom drawers and to hurry up or he would shoot. He then absconded with $2,535.
On Jan. 30, 2009, officers apprehended Bruce shortly after he robbed a Redding North Valley Bank branch. Reviewing surveillance photos from other bank robberies led investigators to suspect Bruce was a serial bandit.
Bruce remains in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 22.
The case resulted from an investigation by the Sacramento Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.