Former Army sniper arrested in 'hipster bandit' bank robbery spree

Posted at 7:24 AM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 21:18:51-04

SAN DIEGO -- A 27-year-old former Army sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was arrested Thursday on suspicion of committing a yearlong series of bank robberies in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties, authorities reported.

William Conn Robertson II of San Diego was taken into custody this morning at his apartment in the 3300 block of Ruffin Road in Serra Mesa, according to the FBI.

Army officials said Robertson served from April 2009 to October 2013.

The FBI announced a $20,000 reward last Friday for information leading to an arrest in connection with the string of eight completed and two attempted heists carried out by a young man nicknamed the "Hipster Bandit" by investigators, due to his trendy clothing and youthful bearing.

The following day, San Diego County Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip identifying Robertson as the perpetrator, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California.

Based on evidence gathered during a search of the suspect's residence and over the course of investigations into the crimes, which began in La Mesa last July, authorities charged Robertson this afternoon with a single county of bank robbery stemming from a heist that occurred at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Scripps Ranch on Nov. 2.

The most recent holdups in the series occurred July 2, when the thief struck twice, once each in Carlsbad and Mission Viejo. On April 1, he committed a holdup in Temecula, the FBI reported. All but two of the crimes occurred in the San Diego area, officials said.

The serial robber targeted banking desks in supermarkets, generally using demand notes. In some instances, witnesses reported seeing him strolling the aisles of targeted stores prior to committing robberies.

In one case, the bandit fled in a blue SUV, and on another occasion he made his getaway aboard a late-model black motorcycle, possibly a Harley- Davidson or Triumph.

FBI agents conducting surveillance of Robertson's apartment on Monday watched him arrived there aboard a black Harley-Davidson Sportster without license plates on it, according to the court document.

Agents learned about a charity called Moderate Majority, which claims to help veterans fight homelessness. On the website, it says:

"Conn is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, having served as an infantryman before being deployed as a sniper. After his honorable discharge, he moved to San Diego, California where he secured employment engraving guns and is planning on attending school. Unfortunately, his motorcycle broke down and left him unable to make the 45 minute commute. Moderate Majority sent his bike to SoCal Motorcycle Services, and Conn is out on the road again!"

Above the post is a photo, which appears to be him, by the same motorcycle, in the same outfit seen on surveillance video which was posted around the same time.

Under another post he is listed as the liaison on Veteran Perspectives for Moderate Majority.

He was arrested at the same address the charity is registered to.

The suspect, who served as an infantryman before being deployed as a sniper, moved to San Diego following his honorable discharge from the Army and found employment engraving guns, the federal complaint states.