CU Manager Helps Reel In 'Fishing HatBandit'

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EDINA, Minn. - (01/10/05) -- A man arrested by a police SWAT teamFriday morning after a robbery at Real Financial Center (RealtorsCU) here could be the state's most prolific bank robber. Policebelieve the man, nabbed hiding in a car trunk after a tense,guns-drawn stand-off, could be the so-called Fishing Hat Bandit,responsible for 23 other robberies, most of them at area creditunions. Dean Wickstrom, the manager of the credit union, helpedcapture the thief by chasing him across the street and into anearby parking garage. The garage was immediately surrounded bypolice, who found the robber hiding in the trunk with a largeamount of cash. The suspect was identified as John Whitrock, 56, ofBurnside. The serial robber has been dubbed the Fishing Hat Banditfor his preferred choice of headgear, but he's also worn baseballcaps and hooded sweatshirts during his hold-ups. The thief isbelieved responsible for robberies last month at US FCU, as well asprevious heists at Realtors CU, Minnesota Building Trades FCU,Minnesota's CU, Highgrove Community FCU (twice), Retail EmployeesCU, Teacher FCU, Twin City Co-Op FCU, St. Paul Retail CU, MinnesotaBuilding Trades FCU and City-County FCU (twice), among others. Onlytwo of his state-record 24 robberies were of non-credit unions. Thecar in which the robber was hiding in the trunk was a maroonChevrolet similar t the getaway car in the Dec. 17 robbery at USFCU, and resembled the description of the Fishing HatBandit.

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