Missing hubcaps lead to ‘granny bandit’ arrest

FONTANA – A “granny bandit” who allegedly committed a series of armed robberies was caught Wednesday after a short crime spree.

Dodi Wasbotten

Dodi Wasbotten of Fontana is a 51-year-old grandmother of one, police say. She is suspected of having carried out at least four armed robberies since Sunday. Wosbotten was apprehended after a Fontana Police Department crime analyst spotted her car on Sierra Avenue near Interstate 15 in the San Bernardino County community. Her car was missing its front hubcaps, a detail that had been reported by the granny bandit’s victims.

“The car was pretty much a perfect match for the description,” said Fontana police spokesman Sgt. Billy Green.

Lt. Angela Stover, who led the investigation, said arresting officers were able to see the butt of a handgun. While Slover said the gun may be a replica, purses taken in the robberies were in plain sight, though Stover said Wasbotten denied taking them.

Police awaited a search warrant before searching her car.

Wasbotten was suspected of a Wednesday morning armed robbery at a Target store at 15272 Summit Ave. Police reported that a masked, gun-toting woman had demanded the victim’s purse at 9:45 a.m. The victim was with a child. Part of the description is that the suspect was wearing a multi-colored scarf over her face.

She first struck on Sunday outside a Kohl’s department store in the 14900 block of Summit Avenue. Late Monday night, she robbed another shopper at the Target in the 16900 block of Slover Avenue. One night later, she failed in an attempt to rob a woman in the parking lot of a Walmart on the 17200 block of Foothill Boulevard.

Police say the robber got back in her car and left. Surveillance cameras provided a view of the crime.

“We do know she was targeting ladies at department stores,” Green said.

There had been four sightings of the granny bandit is as many days. Varied descriptions had been given, including that she was judged to be in her 80s.

Though motive is still a question, “she’s having difficulties like so many other people,” Stover said.

Stover said it is rare to see women committing armed robberies. “More often than not, you’ll have a male committing this kind of crime.”

According to the state penal code, Wasbotten faces up to five years in prison for each robbery. Extra time could be added because she used a firearm.

She was booked into San Bernardino County jail in Rancho Cucamonga.


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