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Originally published August 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Page modified August 18, 2011 at 2:20 PM

'Bad Hair Bandit' suspect arrested in California

A prolific bank robber whose penchant for ugly wigs earned her the moniker "Bad Hair Bandit" was arrested in California, FBI officials say.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes I thought she was called "Fat Tina"??? GO DAWGS! Read more
quotes Cut the chick some slack. Maybe her robbery spree was so she could afford a decent rug... Read more
quotes Hope she gets 1 year behind bars for every bank she stole from. That should put her... Read more

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A suspected bank robber whose penchant for horrible wigs earned her the nickname "Bad Hair Bandit" was arrested in California earlier this week, according to the FBI.

FBI officials said Cynthia Van Holland, 46, of Idaho, is suspected in a string of robberies across four states over the last eight months.

Placer County sheriff's deputies arrested Van Holland and 26-year-old Christopher Alonzo, her alleged getaway driver, after a robbery at a Bank of the West in Auburn, Calif., according to FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich.

The two were arrested about 12 miles from the bank after a witness gave deputies a description of the getaway car and its license plate.

"This is a great example of the public stepping in to help us with obviously great results," Dietrich said.

All but three of the 20 robberies and attempted robberies attributed to the Bad Hair Bandit were in Washington state, and most of those were in the Puget Sound region, according to the FBI.

The robber first struck a U.S. Bank branch in Tacoma last Dec. 22, police said.

Witnesses told investigators that the robber — typically dressed in sunglasses, a hoodie, a hat and a bad wig — tended to wait in line as a customer and then hand a note to the teller, demanding cash and stating that she was armed, the FBI said.

In addition to several robberies in Tacoma, the Bad Hair Bandit hit banks in Spanaway, Moses Lake, Bellevue and Spokane, the FBI said. She's also believed to have robbed banks in Montana, Oregon and California.

According to the FBI, Van Holland entered the Bank of the West on Monday about 2:30 p.m. and, following her established routine, passed the teller a note.

After she was given an undisclosed amount of money, she ran from the bank and got into a car that was waiting behind the building, police said.

In June, the Bad Hair Bandit became the first bank robber from the FBI's Seattle division to appear on the agency's national website in many years, Dietrich said.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

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