‘Traveling Bandit’ arrested in Colorado, identified as Pikeville, Ky. man

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Authorities say they have arrested a serial bank robber deemed the “Traveling Bandit” and have identified him as being from Eastern Kentucky. 

The FBI arrested Jason Lee Robinson, 49 of Pikeville, Kentucky, Thursday morning in Fruita, Colorado. He was taken into custody without incident.

Investigators have linked Robinson to seven bank robberies in six states, including the January 4 holdup at the Mountain Commerce Bank on Bristol Highway in Johnson City. 

The FBI released this timeline of robberies attributed to the Traveling Bandit:

  • Friday, December 28 – Capital Bank in Aventura, Florida
  • Wednesday, January 2 – SunTrust Bank in Asheville, North Carolina
  • Friday, January 4 – Mountain Commerce Bank in Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Tuesday, January 8 – US Bank in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
  • Thursday, January 10 – Trustmark Bank in Prattville, Alabama
  • Monday, January 14 – Fifth Third bank in Mount Vernon, Illinois
  • Thursday, January 17 – Wells Fargo bank in Price, Utah

According to the FBI, investigators deemed him the “Traveling Bandit” due to the long distances he traveled between robberies. If he did rob all those banks, he traveled more than 3,500 miles prior to his arrest.

They believe Robinson’s crime spree began on December 28 when he robbed a Capital Bank in Aventura, Florida near Miami. Investigators say he handed a note to a bank teller that demanded money and suggested he had a weapon. The teller handed over about $1,900. They say Robinson grabbed the money off the counter and fled the bank. The teller then triggered a silent alarm. 

The FBI says before he robbed the Capital Bank, Robinson entered another bank nearby but did not rob it. A bank employee who interacted with Robinson noted he had a country accent and said he was from Kentucky. 

In the weeks following the Aventura robbery, investigators say he held up banks in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Utah. Most of the banks were located along interstate corridors. 

His last hold up, according to investigators, was last Thursday in Price, Utah.

“The robber usually approaches the counter and presents a note demanding money and threatening a weapon and then is seen leaving on foot,” FBI Knoxville spokesperson Jason Pack previously said. 

Investigators say Robinson was first identified as a suspect after they reviewed recent federal prison inmate releases. He was convicted on various federal charges in Eastern Kentucky back in 2009.  

According to court documents, Robinson was on supervised release in November last year and was prohibited from leaving the state of Kentucky. He reportedly told his probation officer that he had recently purchased a Ford Explorer. 

Investigators believe this is the same vehicle he used as a getaway vehicle. The SUV was caught by surveillance cameras in the Prattville, Alabama and Price, Utah robberies.

Robinson’s probation officer tried to visit him at his home on January 18, but he wasn’t there. His family indicated they hadn’t seen him since January 10. 

Last week, the FBI sent out a press release to news organizations across the country regarding the Traveling Bandit. Investigators say a woman claiming to be Robinson’s ex-wife called an FBI tip line and stated the man pictured in the news release looked like her ex-husband. 

The FBI has not revealed the total amount of money he is accused of taking. 

Robinson is currently in federal custody. Details about his initial appearance in federal court are forthcoming. 

Click here to read the criminal complaint filed against him.

Anyone with information regarding the investigation is urged to call the FBI at (754) 703-2000 or Crimestoppers.

Photo gallery: The Traveling Bandit

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