Central Coast Bandit in My Rearview Mirror

27 Aug

Looking in my car’s rearview mirror, I suddenly see multiple flashing blue and red police lights giving chase to a vehicle about a half mile behind me. Working with law enforcement for over 25 years, I immediately realized that the two law enforcement vehicles (combination of California Highway Patrol, County Sherriff, or local Atascadero Police) I had seen waiting on the on each of the last three freeway entrance ramps must have been waiting for a specific car. After I passed the San Anselmo freeway exit, I saw the vehicle being pursued was quickly approaching my car in the fast lane.  At that moment, I was the only vehicle in front of it. I took my foot off my accelerator, intentionally causing my car to slow, in the hopes of slowing the car being pursued. Once that car came very close to the back of mine, in my rearview mirror, I clearly saw a woman with curly hair who I estimated to be in her 50s. She then started to try to go around by pulling into the median, so I moved into the right lane. Multiple law enforcement units continued pursuit.

When I got to my destination in Paso Robles five minutes later, I called 911 to inquire if they wanted a statement. I was told they had a woman in custody, and they would call me if they wanted to talk to me. My assumption that this was the notorious female “Central Coast Bandit” turned out to be correct. She was wanted for bank robberies in Modesto, Monterey County, and four in San Luis Obispo County.

I later learned that just before the chase, she had gone into a bank in San Luis Obispo where the clerk became suspicious and notified law enforcement. The woman drove north on Highway 101, eventually being pursued by law enforcement. She crashed in Paso Robles and was taken into custody.

After being told by law enforcement they would not be taking a statement from me and that I was free to share the information, I am doing so here. Not my usual travel story, but a story of  how unusual things can occur in the most unexpected places.

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