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FBI: Suspect confesses to 21 Bad Hair Bandit robberies

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The FBI says a woman under arrest for an Aug. 15 Bank of the West robbery in Auburn has confessed to a nine-month holdup spree that hit 21 banks in four states. In an affidavit claiming 47-year-old Cynthia Lynn Van Holland committed robberies at Auburn, Davis and Sacramento banks in June and August, the FBI said confessions to a total of 21 robberies came during interviews at the Placer County Jail shortly after her arrest. Authorities have identified Van Holland as the so-called “Bad Hair Bandit,” a woman who had purportedly robbed banks in Washington, Oregon, Montana and California starting last December. The “bad hair” label described her use of ill-fitting wigs during many of the robberies. The FBI affidavit, which allowed the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to jail Van Holland on a no-bail hold, also provided rarely disclosed dollar amounts for each of the 21 robberies and showed the Auburn holdup was the last but most lucrative for the Bad Hair Bandit. The total take from the 21 robberies was $41,247, with Bank of the West’s $8,722 being the highest amount taken. The lowest amount was “nothing” taken from the Kent, Wash. Cathay Bank branch. Van Holland passed a note saying “Give me your cash” to an employee who was not a teller and did not have access to cash, FBI Special Agent Andrew Marshall said. “Van Holland took the note and fled,” Marshall stated. Van Holland and her husband, 26-year-old Christopher Alonzo, both of Idaho, were stopped and arrested 12 miles west of the Auburn bank as they drove along Interstate 80 at Rocklin. The story of the arrest of a woman “bad hair” bank robber drew national and international media attention. Marshall said about $8,000 in loot was found in a Victoria’s Secret bag in the passenger compartment of the Van Holland vehicle. In interviews Aug. 15 and 16, Van Holland admitted she was responsible for 21 bank robberies in four states and initialed surveillance photographs depicting herself as the robber in 17 robberies, Marshall said. For the others, she verbally confessed, he said. A former nurse at the Kootenai County Jail in Idaho, Van Holland is in custody on a federal hold and slated to make her next appearance in Placer County Superior Court Oct. 27. ------------------------------------- Bad Hair Bandit holdups Here is the list of banks the FBI suspects the Bad Hair Bandit has robbed: Dec. 22 US Bank, Tacoma, Wash. $2,072 Jan. 15 Key Bank, Tumwater, Wash. $1,285 Jan. 12 Key Bank, Tacoma, Wash. $1,214 Jan. 14 Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway, Wash. $1,050 Jan. 26 Cathay Bank, Kent, Wash. No money taken Jan. 27 First Security Bank, Redmond, Wash. $441 Feb. 10 US Bank, Auburn, Wash. $995 Feb. 19 Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, Wash. $332 March 25 Sound Community Bank, Tacoma, Wash. $1,960 April 9 Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, Wash. $440 April 21 Cathay Bank, Bellevue, Wash. $2,330 April 26 Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg, Wash. $714 April 27 Key Bank, Moses Lake, Wash. $2,398 May 9 Chase Bank, Spokane, Wash. $1,920 June 7 Sterling Bank, Moses Lake, Wash. $6,384 June 28 East West Bank, Sacramento $671 June 28 US Bank, Davis $1,967 July 1 Key Bank, Lake Oswego, Ore. $1,600 July 18 Yakima Federal, Richland, Wash. $3,152 Aug. 11 Bank of Butte, Butte, Mont. $1,600 Aug. 15 Bank of the West, Auburn $8,722 Total: $41,247 Source: FBI