FBI: Central Coast Bandit Behind Bars

Arrest Follows Attempted Robbery and Freeway Chase

Claire Scholl, NewsChannel 3 Assignment Editor, assignmentdesk@keyt.com
Tracy Lehr, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Reporter, tracy@keyt.com
Victoria Sanchez, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 06:26 PM PDT Aug 23, 2013    UPDATED: 05:34 PM PDT Aug 26, 2013 
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -

50-year old Christina Fernandez Padilla was booked into the San Luis Obispo County jail Friday evening after an attempted bank robbery and chase up Highway 101.  A spokeswoman from the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes Padilla is the so-called "Central Coast Bandit," a woman who robbed many financial institutions over the past several months. 

Padilla was held on $290,000 bond, charged with several robbery counts.

SLO Police tell NewsChannel 3 on Friday afternoon a woman entered the Golden One Credit Union branch on Foothill Boulevard.  A clerk at the bank became suspicious and called for police.

By the time officers arrived, the woman had left the bank without any money.  SLO Police spotted her rental vehicle - a 2013 blue Chevy Malibu - but decided not to pursue, citing safety concerns.  Information about the car was passed along to CHP officers who ended up chasing her until the arrest in Paso Robles.  She was alone in the car, except for two dogs.

The Central Coast Bandit is suspected of robbing half a dozen financial institutions in Pacific Grove, Atascadero, Nipomo, Paso Robles, Modesto and Pismo Beach.  The first robbery happened on New Year's Eve, with another taking place on Valentine's Day.  Investigators said the robber usually wore hats and casual clothing while she passed notes demanding cash.  In some cases tellers said she would act as if she was going to cash a check, then claim she had accomplices in the parking lot.