Stockton investigators think the Aug. 16 robbery of Guaranty Bank on North Tracy Boulevard is linked to a man or group of serial robberies from Tracy to Stockton early this month.
They say that one man or a group could be on a spree and that the authorities are close to catching the robber or robbers.
One robber is described as a black man in his mid- to late 20s, about 5-foot-10 with a thin build and a tendency to wear wigs during the crimes.
A local television station showed surveillance video of the man wearing a Rastafarian wig, complete with dreadlocks and a rainbow-colored knitted cap.
Even as early as last week, Tracy investigators were thinking that the robberies might be linked.
But Tracy police were playing it safe Monday.
“I wouldn’t go far as to say that they’re linked just yet, but we’re looking at it,” Detective Dean Hicks said.
The Tracy robbery was fouled when dye packs exploded, causing the robber to toss the loot out the window between West and B streets in downtown Tracy. Stained and burned money could be seen blowing down the street.
The first purported robbery occurred early Aug. 3, when a man robbed Bank of America on East Charter Way in Stockton, asking specifically for $50 and $100 bills. The man had long hair in a ponytail, sunglasses and a baseball cap.
But things kicked into overdrive Aug. 15, when a man using a similar mode of operation robbed three banks in one day, but only one was unsuccessful. The next day, Tracy’s Guaranty Bank was hit. All robberies were the same: a demand note and, on at least two occasions, the man who robbed the bank was wearing a wig. Also, many witnesses described the robber as indicating he had a gun. But no one has actually seen the gun.
The latest robbery happened Thursday, when a man using the same method robbed the Bank of the West branch at 1440 E. Hammer Lane in Stockton.
Stockton police Sgt. Steve McCarthy told a local newspaper that police know the identity of the robber. He said the public could expect some news soon.
Robberies have skyrocketed in recent months, with Modesto leading the curve with 29 robberies since October. Tracy has had six robberies so far this year, and FBI officials from Modesto think a “good majority” of all area robberies could be serial. In the past month, fewer than 50 percent of area robberies have resulted in arrest.