'Bearded Bandit' arrested, likely tied to Pleasanton Wells Fargo robbery

Man accused of robbing at least 11 banks across Northern California

A man accused of being the serial bank robber dubbed the "Bearded Bandit," who is likely tied to a robbery of a Pleasanton bank last week, has been arrested in Brentwood.

The man, identified as Kenneth Ellis, 30, of Stockton, was wanted by more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area and elsewhere in Northern California in connection with a rash of bank robberies.

A Pleasanton police spokesman said investigators think Ellis was likely the man who robbed the Wells Fargo Bank at the Pleasanton Gateway shopping plaza across from the Fairgrounds March 17.

"The suspect arrested is likely the same person we are investigating for the robbery that occurred in our city," Pleasanton police Lt. Brian Laurence said. "We are currently working in collaboration with the other law enforcement agencies to confirm this, as it is an ongoing investigation."

Ellis was apprehended by Brentwood police after a citizen reported seeing a man matching the "Bearded Bandit" description a Safeway supermarket parking lot at 3110 Balfour Road.

Brentwood police found the suspect nearby. Ellis reportedly surrendered peacefully to officers.

Police said Ellis was turned over to Concord police investigators before he was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility.

He is suspected of stealing more than $24,000 since the first robbery was reported on Feb. 12 and was tied to at least 11 bank robberies, one attempted robbery and three casing incidents, according to the FBI. He was most recently suspected of back-to-back robberies in Contra Costa and Salano counties.

In the Pleasanton case March 17, an unidentified man went into the Wells Fargo Bank and gave a teller a note demanding all the cash from the teller's drawer. The teller gave the robber an unspecified amount of cash, and the culprit quickly left the bank.

Staff reporter Meredith Bauer and Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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