Fishing Hat Bandit Confesses

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - (01/12/05) -- The Fishing Hat Bandit who menacedmetropolitan area credit unions over the past 18 months--thoughalways unarmed--confessed to 19 of the robberies shortly after hisarrest last Friday, authorities said. John Whitrock, described byneighbors in his suburban Burnside neighborhood as a quiet man, isbelieved to be responsible for as many as 24 robberies since2003--22 of them at credit unions. Whitrock was captured Fridayafternoon after the manager at Real Financial Center (Realtors CU)chased him down after he robbed the credit union and directedpolice to the bandit's hiding place in the trunk of a car. DeanWickstrom, the credit union manager who chased the bandit, said hewas careful to keep his distance from the suspect while dialingpolice on his cell phone. "I was just planning to observe him andsee where he went. I wasn't trying to tackle him or anything," saidWickstrom, adding he was confident the robber was not armed. An FBIofficer testified during Tuesday's detention hearing for Whitrockthe bandit confessed to the Friday credit union robbery and 18others. Whitrock was held without bail.

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