‘Bling Bank Bandit’ BUSTED!

Only one man is accused of robbing not one – but three – outer East Portland banking establishments. See how he was nabbed – by something he left behind at crime scenes …

Dubbed the “Bling Bandit” by FBI agents, this man is said to have been in the process, here, of robbing a Lents Neighborhood area Wells Fargo bank branch. Bank surveillance photo

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When they discovered that one man had robbed three banks over three months, it prompted some law enforcement officials to think of him as a “one-man crime-wave”.

This Parkrose area U.S. Bank branch is said to have been the first target of what officials say is a “serial bank robber”.

The “crime wave” started on April 26, when a man described as an African American male strode into the Parkrose branch of U.S. Bank in Argay Square at 4100 NE 122nd Avenue.

“He was purporting to be armed,” stated Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Heading south, this Wells Fargo bank branch was also robbed.

Then, on June 29 in the Lents Neighborhood, the Wells Fargo located at 5444 SE 82nd Avenue was robbed.

The suspect was a similarly-described African American male, also purporting to be armed, added Simpson. “Members of the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force subsequently referred to the unknown serial robber as the ‘Bling Bandit’.”

Perhaps because he had good fortune the first time there, the robber returned to once again rob this Parkrose U.S. Bank Branch.

Most recently, on July 16, a similarly-described African American male, purporting to be armed, again robbed the mid-County U.S. Bank branch on NE 122nd Avenue in Parkrose.

“Subsequent investigation, including the development of a fingerprint left at the scene and the execution of search warrant, identified the suspect as 37-year-old Ivory Joe Watkins,” Simpson said.

Officials say they’ve retired the “Bling Bandit” by arresting 37-year-old Ivory Joe Watkins. MCDC booking photo

Finally, on July 25 at 11:12 a.m., Portland Police Bureau Robbery Detectives, with assistance from Multnomah County Community Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, took Ivory Joe Watkins into custody for a Parole Violation.

Currently, Watkins is lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center on the Parole Violation charge; federal Bank Robbery charges are pending against Watkins in U.S. District Court.
Anyone with additional information on these bank robberies is asked to contact Detective Brett Hawkinson at brett.hawkinson@portlandoregon.gov, concluded Simpson.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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