Crime Log: Police catch $5K Bandit on 605 Freeway on-ramp

Los Alamitos Police arrested a man Monday, April 15, who is suspected by the FBI of being the $5K Bandit. The FBI gave the name to the suspect who allegedly robbed the same Los Alamitos bank branch four times because he reportedly took $5,000 in each of the first three robberies.

Capt. Bruce McAlpine, of the Los Alamitos Police Department, said his department was certain the suspect was responsible for the Monday morning, April 15 robbery and likely responsible for the three prior robberies at the same U.S. Bank branch dating back to 2011.

McAlpline said he did not know why the suspect kept returning to the same branch.

“I can’t get into the mind of a bad guy,” McAlpine said.

McAlpine was happy that officers were able to catch the suspect this time.

He was also satisfied that no one was seriously injured. Both the suspect and the officer who ultimately apprehended the suspect suffered minor injuries during the suspect’s failed attempt to evade arrest.

Bank surveillance photo of $5K Bandit

The arrest took place following a robbery of the Los Alamitos US Bank branch located at 10942 Pine St.

Officers were alerted to the robbery at about 9:14 a.m., when an employee of the bank called police and said a man similar in appearance to a knife wielding suspect who had committed three prior robberies at the location returned to commit a fourth heist.

The bank employee told a West Cities Police Communications (911) dispatcher a heavy set male African-American in his 40s, wearing a black baseball hat, black sweatshirt, dark sunglasses, and a surgical mask entered the bank carrying a large knife.

The suspect displayed the knife to the teller while demanding money.

According to the Los Alamitos Police Department, the suspect’s clothing was similar to what was worn in prior robberies and it appeared to be the same knife or a similar knife to the one previously used.  Immediately following the robbery, the suspect left the bank on foot in an unknown direction of travel.

Although there was no vehicle description given to police, an officer monitoring traffic along the Katella corridor between Los Alamitos Boulevard and the 605 freeway spotted a person matching the suspect’s description driving a gray 2009 Dodge Charger at a high rate of speed west on Katella towards the 605 freeway.

When the officer tried to pursue the vehicle, the driver, who was the solo occupant of the car, had already entered the Katella/605 northbound on-ramp.

While navigating the on-ramp, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an embankment of ice plant.

The suspect tried to evade the officer on foot, but the officer caught the suspect as he ran through the ice plant.  The officer and suspect engaged in a brief struggle until back up officers arrived and the suspect was safely taken into custody after being immobilized with a stun gun by one of the responding officers.

The suspect sustained minor abrasions, but was treated at the scene by the Orange County Fire Authority and released to police officials.  The officer also sustained minor abrasions; however, he did not require medical attention.

The suspect has been identified as Keith Alonzo Smith Sr, 41, a Long Beach resident according to his California driver’s license. According to the Los Alamitos Police Department, authorities believe Smith has committed similar robberies at the bank branch, using a similar M.O. on June 21, 2011; June 30, 2012 and Sept. 12, 2012.

Approximately $5,000 was lost in each of the prior individual robberies.

The loss in this particular incident is unknown.

However, officers recovered several bundles of US currency at the arrest scene.  The investigators from the FBI’s Orange County Bank Robbery Apprehension Team will be assisting with the investigation.

Smith is being charged with armed robbery and was booked at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana.  No bank employees were hurt during the incident.

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Crime Log Compiled
by Charles M. Kelly


Monday, April 1

Fraud—12:48 p.m.—Pelorus Avenue—The crime apparently occurred on March 30. Someone used the caller’s credit card account to subscribe to adult websites. Loss: $29.95. Report taken.

Municipal Code Violation—4:55 p.m.—1st Street—The caller said a man was going through the dumpster in the alley to the rear of the location.

Tuesday, April 2

Petty Theft Report—10:34 a.m.—Lampson Avenue—The caller took his vehicle to get the oil changed and when he returned, he realized his property had been taken. Loss: sunglasses valued at $350. The crime apparently occurred between 8:15 a.m. and the time of the call to the police. Report taken.

Wednesday, April 3

Suspicious—12:01 a.m.—Electric Avenue—The caller said two “kids” with stocking caps on top of their heads were checking door handles on vehicles. They were last seen on 11th Street, heading toward Landing.

Animal Information—7:23 a.m.—Edinger Avenue—The caller said a man had been arriving in the early morning for an unspecified number of months and feeding coyotes from his vehicle. Referred.

Bike Theft—9:35 a.m.—7th Street—The crime apparently occurred on Tuesday, April 2, between 2 and 3 p.m. Someone stole a pink and brown 3-speed beach cruiser valued at $350. The bike was taken off the caller’s front porch. The caller did not want a report, she just wanted the incident logged.

Thursday, April 4

Illegal Peddler—3:28 p.m.—Rossmoor Center Way and Seal Beach Boulevard—The caller said a woman on the median at the light was asking for money.

Friday, April 5

Injured Animal—8:33 a.m.—Lampson Avenue—An injured coyote was on Lampson Avenue, near the Tennis Center. The original caller phoned City Hall. The information was then passed to records in the Seal Beach Police Department, before the matter was referred to Long Beach Animal Care Services.

Saturday, April 6

Counseling—1:06 p.m.—Seal Beach Boulevard—A citizen went to the Seal Beach Police Department headquarters to seek counseling about the citizen’s child, who was supposedly cyber bullying another child. Log entry.

Sunday, April 7

Petty Theft From Vehicle—9:21 a.m.—10th Street—A Nike bat, baseball gloves, pocket knife and old crossbow were taken from the caller’s car.

IN Leisure World

Monday, April 1

Identity Theft—9:17 a.m.—Oakmont Road, Mutual Unknown—The crime apparently occurred on March 27. Someone used fake identification to withdraw $5,200 from the caller’s bank account. Report taken.

Fraud—1:03 p.m.—Interlachen Road, Mutual Unknown—The caller had work done on her vehicle by an individual. When he was done, he took the caller’s credit card information and spent $200 on purchases. Report taken.


Monday, April 8

Suspicious—9 p.m.—Thor Avenue—The caller reported being home with her children and hearing what she thought was someone turning on the hose in her backyard. The caller’s husband was at work and she heard the noise a minute before calling. There were no animals at the house and there was a pool in the backyard. The caller turned on the light in the backyard and the sound stopped. A patrol unit checked the backyard and it checked out OK.

Tuesday, April 9

Fraud Report—6:49 p.m.—Farquhar Avenue—The caller reported that he had replied to a Craigslist ad for a possible job and had sent a $700 money gram to Las Vegas. The caller received a check for $1,250 that was supposed to cover the $700 he sent and pay him $500. The check bounced. Report taken.

Wednesday, April 10

Pending Fight—2:55 p.m.—Cerritos and Los Alamitos Boulevard—The caller reported second-hand information that 50-60 juveniles were at the donut shop and a that fight was possibly going to happen. The caller said the juveniles might be headed to Taco Surf after the donut shop. Patrol checked the donut shop and Taco Surf. Both locations checked out OK. No juveniles were located.

Thursday, April 11

Citizen Assist—3:40 p.m.—Green Avenue—The caller reported that a large moving truck was double parked and blocking the caller’s and another driveway and preventing cars from leaving. The caller finally got the driver to move the truck after getting into a verbal argument with the driver. The caller wanted the driver counseled about double parking. The driver of the truck was counseled and that individual said they would comply.


Monday, April 8

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—11:26 a.m.—Martha Ann Drive and Druid Lane—The caller saw a man walking in the neighborhood at a fast pace and thought this was suspicious. The individual had not stopped at any houses and the caller did not think the man belonged in the neighborhood.

Grand Theft Report—5:52 p.m.—Montecito Road.

Tuesday, April 9

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—10:05 a.m.—Foster Road and Gertrude Drive—The caller reported a vehicle driving slowly through the area, possibly casing.

Wednesday, April 10

Patrol Check—6:42 a.m.—Wendy Way—The caller said a neighbor’s basketball hoop was on the street and the caller thought this meant that the neighbors would park in front of his house, which the caller considered unacceptable. The caller was advised that Wendy Way is a public street. The caller demanded that someone tell the neighbors to remove the basketball hoop. The caller was not present at the location on Wendy Way.

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—2 p.m.—Bradbury Road—The caller said a car driven by one man seemed to be following two other men who were walking around the complex and checking the front doors of multiple units as if to see if any doors were unlocked.

Suspicious Vehicle—3:58 p.m.—Blume Drive and Tucker Lane—The caller was concerned because a minivan was unknown to the area.

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—5:02 p.m.—Blume Drive and Tucker Lane.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—6:37 p.m.—Druid Lane—The caller said a man and a woman knocked on the caller’s door. When the caller answered, they said they were sorry to bother the caller and walked away.

Thursday, April 11

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—11:58 a.m.—Martha Ann Drive and Shakespeare Drive—The caller said a man unknown to the area was standing by an older vehicle.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—12:43 p.m.—Foster Road and Mainway Drive—The caller reported an individual jogging slowly in the area, which the caller apparently regarded as suspicious.

Prowler Report—1:10 p.m.—Yellowtail Drive—The caller saw  his father outside, yelling at someone. The father called back to cancel the call. A neighbor had retrieved his Frisbee from the yard.

Friday, April 12

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—12:15 a.m.—Copa De Oro Drive—The caller saw a man in a white shirt run through the back yard toward the front of the residence 10 minutes earlier.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—9:10 a.m.—Hedwig Road and Donnis Road—The caller reported seeing a suspicious man on foot circling the Rossmoor Park area and the playground. He was then seen walking on Hedwig Road toward the elementary school.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—9:31 a.m.—Blume Drive—The caller reported two individuals walking a dog. The caller said they approached her and began talking to her, which made her feel nervous. The caller said they were out of place, but couldn’t provide a definitive answer as to why she believed they were out of place.

Suspicious Vehicle—1:41 p.m.—Baskerville Road.

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—1:48 p.m.—Montecito Road and Bradbury Road.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—4:12 p.m.—Tigertail Drive.

Burglary Report—8:33 p.m.—Oak Knoll Drive—The log did not say if this was a residential or automobile burglary.

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—10:12 p.m.—Hedwig Road and Los Alamitos Boulevard.

Suspicious Person in Vehicle—11:45 p.m.— Kensington Road.

Saturday, April 13

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—12:57 a.m.—Quail Run Road.

Identity Theft—8:34 a.m.—Pemberton Road.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—8:50 a.m.—Coleridge Drive and Newbury Road.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—1:20 p.m.—Norgrove Lane.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—6:17 p.m.—Bradbury Road.

Disturbance, Music or Party—11:53 p.m.—Kensington Road.

Sunday, April 14

Disturbance, Music or Party—12:05 a.m.—Wembley Road.

Suspicious Person or Circumstances—1:54 a.m.—Wembley Road.

Disturbance—9:48 a.m.—Montecito Road.

Ted Apodaca of the News-Enterprise contributed to this article.