Local News

Detectives identify serial bank robber

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane County Sheriff's deputies have identified a serial bank robber they think is responsible for at least four recent heists in the area.

Detectives say Brian Douglas Sheldon, 40, liked to use disguises and notes to demand cash from tellers, often in out of the way locations. At a bank in Rockford, Sheldon allegedly robbed the branch not once but twice, and it was there that an alert teller got a good license plate number on the getaway vehicle.

Sheldon was arrested in that same vehicle in Hayden, Idaho a few hours after the bank heist.

Serial bank robber ID

Before it was all over sheriff's major crimes detectives had a photo collage of Sheldon as he sported a variety of looks allegedly knocking off local banks.

"Once we were able to put the photos on our social media sites we started receiving a lot of tips and this is just an example of what happens when citizens get engaged with their law enforcement," Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Tipsers identified the man as Sheldon, and as soon as detective Kirk Keyser ran his record he saw Sheldon had been responsible for seven bank robberies in Spokane back in 2001.

"Many of those bank robberies followed criminal behavior and criminal patterns that we saw in this series of robberies," Keyser said.

Specifically, that Sheldon liked banks doing businesses inside grocery stores. Back in 2001 Sheldon demanded cash with notes in the hopes of not drawing attention to himself.

"Most of them were done with notes that indicated specific threats during the bank robberies … and those corresponded with the bank robberies that were occurring this year," Keyser said.

Sheldon is also a person of interest in a takeover robbery at Poppy's Tavern in Spokane Valley, where the suspect tied up the bartender before stealing her purse and till.

Sheriff Knezovich said some criminals just can't be rehabilitated and if they're not behind bars they're breaking the law.

"This is another prime example of someone with a criminal history who spent time in prison and upon his release [is] back out victimizing society," he said.

Despite an 87-month prison term Sheldon apparently didn't learn his lesson about bank robberies. So now, once he's extradited from Idaho to Washington, he'll be prosecuted federally. When you add a felon in possession of a firearm charge to the list of charges Sheldon's facing it's very possible that if convicted he could be spending the rest of his life in prison.