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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

October 16, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Charges filed against suspected ‘Tour de Banks’ robber

The man suspected of being the prolific “Tour de Banks” robber was charged today in King County Superior Court with eight counts of first-degree armed robbery.

Cristian Babalai, 29, who was arrested Friday near his Bothell home, is charged with eight robberies between May and September at banks in Bothell, Woodinville, Monroe and Mill Creek. According to the charges, three of the robberies took place in King County and five occurred in Snohomish County.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, which outlines the police case, investigators found a correlation between the robberies, Babalai’s cash deposits and his gambling losses. At one point, he suffered a $60,000 gambling loss, the document says.

Investigators also say that Babalai deposited large sums of cash into his bank account shortly after robberies that netted large sums of money, particularly the robberies of the Washington Federal Bank in Monroe on July 30, in which $77,000 was stolen, and the robbery of Whidbey Island Bank in Mill Creek on Sept. 12, which reported a loss of $40,000.

Cellphone records indicate Babalai was in the general area of each of the banks when the heists occurred, according to the document.

According to the FBI, the “Tour de Banks” robber was frequently spotted riding a bicycle to the banks he robbed. However, the affidavit says surveillance video showed that the bank robber had driven a silver 1994 through 1997 Mercedes-Benz C220 or C280 to some of the robberies.

According to the FBI, the robberies were committed by a man who spoke with a “European” accent and was typically armed with a Glock-style handgun or a knife while wearing a full-face ski mask, gloves and a hooded sweatshirt or a baseball cap.

During a search of Babalai’s home and business, police recovered a Glock pistol, court documents say.

 

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Bank robbery, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, King County Superior Court

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