Ponytail Bandit in an Austin, Texas (amw.com)
Acting on a request from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, police on Wednesday arrested Morgan Michelle Hoke, 21, at the Cha Cha Villa Hotel, MajGeneral Direk Manolihakul, the acting Immigration Police commissioner, said.
Authorities have revoked Hoke's visa and are keeping her at the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok. She was expected to be handed to American authorities later yesterday, then extradited to the United States to face arrest warrants there.
Hoke and her 26yearold husband, Stuart Michael Romine, who remains free, are suspected of the May 2007 robberies of banks in Austin, Texas; Roseville, California; and Lynwood, Washington, near Seattle.
Immigration Police officer LtColonel Supachai Paladej said initial investigations showed Hoke entered Thailand on January 20 through Suvarnabhumi Airport, while Romine was now believed to be in India.
Further investigation found Hoke to be at the Khao San Road hotel.
In a modern day Bonnie and Clyde story, Hoke and Romine allegedly robbed banks in Texas together.
Hoke earned her nickname after a bank surveillance video from a Texas robbery surfaced, showing a suspect donning a University of Texas baseball cap with a ponytail hanging down her back.
After the first of three robberies in Texas, the couple dashed to Las Vegas where they were married, according to one report in the AmericanStatesman in Austin, Texas where at least one of the robberies occurred.
US news media reported that on January 18 this year, four days after Romine allegedly robbed the Wachovia Bank that Hoke had previously robbed in 2007, the couple fled the country on a commercial airline departing from Atlanta, Georgia and arriving in Seoul, South Korea. Once in Seoul, they obtained a second flight to Bangkok.
According to amw.com, about 1pm on May 7 last year, a young woman in her twenties entered the Wachovia Bank on Mesa Drive in Austin, Texas and approached the teller with a note that requested 20, 50 and 100dollar bills.
The teller handed over cash to the woman, who then fled the bank on foot.
Surveillance camera footage shows a woman, now identified as Hoke, with shoulderlength blonde hair in a ponytail waiting in line and approaching the teller. She is described as having a thin build and wearing a red sweatertype jacket and light to medium stonewashed jeans and carrying a handbag. Her ponytail was underneath what would become a staple part of her look - a baseball cap.
A few weeks later and 2,800km away from the first heist, the Ponytail Bandit struck again, this time at a Wells Fargo Bank in Roseville, California. On May 23, 2007 authorities said a young blonde woman with a ponytail under her baseball cap entered the bank and demanded cash. Officials said this time the unknown female wore a white, hooded sweatshirt. Police said she got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.
One week after her California caper, First Heritage Bank in Lynnwood, Washington state was the next stop.
Authorities said that on May 30, 2007, another robbery went down in almost identical circumstances. Surveillance video shows the suspect arrived at First Heritage Bank wearing a blue cap and a zippered sweatshirt and once again asked the teller for cash. Authorities said she fled the scene on foot.
The FBI said the Ponytail Bandit remained calm and friendly during robberies. They said she had distinct mannerisms, including crossing her arms with her shoulders slouched forward. The blondehaired bandit requests tellers smile as they give her money.