Lunch break leads police to Granny Bandit suspect

AP News
Posted: May 12, 2011 2:49 PM
Lunch break leads police to Granny Bandit suspect

Victims who reported being robbed at gunpoint by an old lady wearing big sunglasses, a scarf and a muumuu can breathe easier _ police are saying the "Granny Bandit" has been arrested.

A crime analyst on the case was on her lunch break when she spotted the suspect wanted in a series of armed robberies outside Southern California department stores and helped police make the arrest Wednesday, authorities said.

Dodi Wasbotten, 51, was taken into custody hours after a woman with a child reported being held up outside a Target store by a woman who was wearing a muumuu and had covered her face with a scarf. After grabbing the victim's purse, the suspect took off in a dark sedan with missing front hubcaps.

A woman matching the suspect's description was involved in three other stickups in the San Bernardino County city of Fontana since Sunday.

Shoppers described being robbed in store parking lots by a gun-toting, middle-aged or elderly woman who covered her face. They described her as being between 50 and 80 years old.

Sgt. Billy Green said he wasn't sure why some of the victims described the suspect as in her eighties, leading police to dub her the "Granny Bandit."

"I can only speculate that it had to do with the way she was dressed in a muumuu. She had a scarf and big sunglasses covering her face. She had a weathered face," Green said.

Green said Wasbotten, a grandmother of one, has a history of drug and alcohol use. He said she has been arrested by police before, but declined to release details of her criminal history.

"I can see how she hasn't aged well," he said.

A call to Wasbotten's Fontana residence was not immediately returned. Wasbotten describes herself as an out-of-work pharmacy technician on her Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Crime analyst Carynn Terrell _ who put together a flyer for the "Granny Bandit" _ wasn't available to comment on how she was able to spot Wasbotten's sedan.

Police Chief Rod Jones said Wasbotten's car matched the vehicle description, and that items belonging to one of the victims were found inside. Detectives said they also found an unloaded handgun.

Wasbotten denied taking the items, Green said.

She will be booked for investigation of robbery and attempted robbery, he said.