Robbery note spells destiny for suspect, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say a bank robber’s dreams of big-time heists were foiled by two critical mistakes — forgetting his misspelled note at one crime scene and wearing his company uniform at another.

Eric Munoz, whose recent court appearance was continued due to attorneys’ scheduling conflicts, will have one last chance to make a deal Tuesday before facing a jury trial April 18.

Munoz, a 41-year-old South San Francisco resident with a prior robbery conviction, is facing three counts of felony bank robbery in connection with two holdups in San Mateo and Foster City last summer. He remains in San Mateo county jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

Wearing a yellow hard hat and armed with a note that read, “Bank Robbery, I Have A Gon [sic],” Munoz approached a teller at U.S. Bank in San Mateo on June 21, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. After allegedly taking $3,759, prosecutors say Munoz ran away — forgetting that he had left his note at the bank.

San Mateo police took the note to a crime lab, which reportedly revealed two of Munoz’s fingerprints.

On Aug. 10, Munoz allegedly struck again, this time entering a Lucky supermarket in Foster City.

Clad in a hard hat and an orange vest with his company logo emblazoned on it, the Cupertino Electric Co. employee allegedly robbed a teller at the Bank of America branch inside the market. Prosecutors say Munoz made off with $1,900, but not before the robbery was captured on videotape.

The following morning, California Highway Patrol officers located an abandoned car on U.S. Highway 101. Inside were the orange vest and a Polaroid photo of Munoz wearing his hard hat, according to Wagstaffe.

The robberies were part of a rash of holdups that shocked Peninsula residents and vexed police last summer. From June 21 to Sept. 10, there were 10 holdups or attempted robberies in San Mateo County banks. By August, the area’s 2007 robbery figures had already surged to nearly match the year-end statistics for previous years, according to FBI officials.

tbarak@examiner.com

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