WPD arrests suspected ‘Cal Bear Bandit’


A man suspected of robbing at least eight banks was arrested by Westminster police after the suspect robbed a US National Bank, stole a taxicab and led officers on a pursuit to Santa Ana.

Westminster police at about 3 p.m. Friday responded to reports of a bank robbery under way at US National Bank in the 15000 of Brookhurst Street.

Police said they arrived and learned the suspect handed the teller a demand note, took an undisclosed amount of cash and ran to a waiting taxicab.

An officer saw the cab and attempted pull the driver over near Mile Square Park.

The cab driver exited the vehicle and the suspect then jumped in the driver’s seat and drove away. The taxi driver was not involved in the robbery, police said.

The suspect led officers on a pursuit eastbound on Edinger Avenue to Fairview Street in Santa Ana, police said.

The man crashed the taxi into another vehicle at Edinger Avenue and Fairview Street. He then jumped out of the cab and tried to run, police said.

The suspect led officers on a short foot pursuit before he was apprehended.

Justin Hayes, 27, of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of bank robbery, felony evading and auto theft.

According to the FBI, Hayes is suspected of several bank robberies in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Anyone who has information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Westminster Police Department at 714- 898-3315. Callers can remain anonymous. Anonymous tips also can be given to Orange County Crime Stoppers by calling 1-855-TIP-OCCS or by logging onto Crimestoppers.org.