Prints point police to S.S.F. heist suspect

A South San Francisco resident who admitted to being involved in three recent bank robberies was arrested by San Mateo police officers around 1 p.m. Wednesday, after leaving a fingerprint on a slip of paper at a crime scene.

Eric Munoz, 40, admitted to his involvement in the June robbery of a San Mateo U.S. Bank as well as a Millbrae bank robbery in July and a Foster City robbery in August after he was arrested at his South San Francisco home, San Mateo police Capt. Kevin Raffaelli said.

The arrest ended almost two months of investigation after a single individual robbed the U.S. Bank at 136 Second Ave. in San Mateo on June 21.

The suspect touched a piece of paper during the crime, which San Mateo detectives sent to the county Crime Lab for analysis.

A single fingerprint found on the paper matched Munoz, who was arrested without incident.

Although no details were given, officers from San Mateo and Foster City said that the existence of Munoz’s print in the national database likely meant that he had been involved in previous crimes.

“Most of the time, when you have prints on file, it’s from a previous crime because the only other people who get fingerprinted are applicants for certain jobs, and if you’re applying for things, you’re usually not out robbing banks,” Foster City Capt. Jon Froomin said.

The Foster City robbery occurred at the Bank of America inside the Lucky’s Supermarket at 919 Edgewater Blvd. at approximately 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 10.

Before Munoz, the only arrest in connection to robberies was Phillip Guerra, a suspect in the August 7 Bank of America robbery in Redwood City. His arrest broke a spate of recent unsolved bank robberies that struck San Mateo County, with at least six other robberies since June.

San Mateo police also arrested two men on July 31 who were allegedly planning to rob the Union Bank at 390 El Camino Real.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler told The Examiner that his agency is seeing an increase in the number of bank robberies around the Bay Area.

By August, 2007’s robbery figures have already surged to nearly match the year-end statistics for previous years.

There were at least 32 bank robberies by June of this year, nearing the 41 and 39, respectively, in 2005 and 2006.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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