Armed robbers hit San Mateo bank

Police are searching for two suspects after an armed bank robbery Monday morning, the latest in a string of recent bank heists throughout the county.

At about 10:50 a.m., police responded to a call that two masked suspects with guns were holding up a Bank of America at 300 S. El Camino Real. The suspects took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing. No one was injured, said SanMateo police Lt. Tom Daugherty.

A similar robbery took place on April 14 at a Bank of America on the 2900 block of South El Camino Real in San Mateo. In that case, three masked men, at least one carrying a handgun, ordered everyone to the ground before making off with an undisclosed amount of money.

In addition to those two heists, Redwood City police Detective Jeff Price is investigating the case of the “Gilligan” robber, named for his fisherman hat, who has robbed local banks sporadically since 2002 and seems to have made a reappearance.

The so-called Gilligan suspect struck on April 21 at the Washington Mutual Bank on Laurel Street in San Carlos, on May 4 at the First National Bank on El Camino Real in Redwood City and on Friday at the Wells Fargo Bank at the Sequoia Station, police say.

San Carlos police Cmdr. Jon Read described bank robberies as “cyclical.” He recalled that in the early 1990s there were nine in San Carlos in one year.

“That’s quite a bit for a small town,” he said. “It’s not a crime that happens every day in every city. When they start up, all of the police departments are on alert.”

In response, police agencies usually share information and sometimes the FBI gets involved, said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Don O’Keefe. Information on cases is shared through a computer database and a regular meeting of countywide investigators. Matching suspects to cases relies on finding patterns in suspects’ physical descriptions, how they talk to victims and the time incidents take place.

The two male suspects in the Monday heist are described as either black or Hispanic and between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall. Anyone with information is asked to call San Mateo County Sheriff’s Investigation Division at (650) 522-7650.

bfoley@examiner.com

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