Bank Robber Confesses to Santa Barbara Crimes

A man suspected of robbing banks across Washington State and two in Santa Barbara recently confessed to committing the crimes here, according to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood. William Mitchell, 56, was arrested in November in Oregon, and earlier this month, he told Seattle investigators, FBI agents, and federal prosecutors that he did rob two Santa Barbara banks, one in 2005 and the other in 2014.

William Mitchell
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William Mitchell

Known as the “Roscoe Bandit” to detectives, Mitchell walked into a Santa Barbara Bank & Trust on Nogales Avenue on August 15, 2005, showing a gun to employees and demanding they get on the ground. He robbed the bank of thousands of dollars before driving away.

On October 2, 2014, Mitchell walked into a Community West Bank on State Street, again waving a gun at the bank employees and stealing thousands of dollars; he fled on his bicycle. Mitchell left his gun behind, however. Authorities had the gun — which was quickly determined to be a fake — tested for DNA at the state’s Department of Justice Crime Lab, which matched it to Mitchell earlier this month. Harwood said Mitchell hasn’t been sentenced yet but is expected to serve 10-15 years in federal prison. Mitchell’s connection to Santa Barbara remains hazy, Harwood said, adding that he was believed to have stayed in various homeless shelters but it is unknown for how long.

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