LOS ANGELES — A man dubbed the Blue Cloth Bandit for his alleged habit of using a cloth to cover a handgun during a string of more than five dozen robberies over a span of nearly two years in now in custody, police said.
Charles Chukwuma Onwuemelie, 29, of Quartz Hill was arrested at his residence on Saturday, and he was being held on $1.4 million bail, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Since October 2021 there have been 68 armed robberies of businesses “attributed by investigators to the same suspect,” an LAPD statement said.
“The robberies have occurred throughout Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles,” police said.
“During their investigation … detectives discovered that the suspect commonly used a blue cloth to cover the handgun used in the robberies that occurred at gas stations, 7-Elevens and Walmarts,” police said. “The suspect would conceal himself by wearing different hats, a face mask and rubber gloves.”
According to police, the same vehicle was involved in many of the robberies, and the same suspect was linked to the series of crimes “based on several factors.”
“When the suspect struck again on Friday, September 23rd, detectives formulated a plan, initiated surveillance and ultimately served a search and arrest warrant.”
An investigation led authorities to arrest Charles Chukwuma Onwuemelie, 29, of Quartz Hill on suspicion of committing dozens of armed robberies across the city and county of Los Angeles. Investigators say Onwuemelie is the Blue Cloth Bandit, who is known for using a cloth to cover his handgun while robbing businesses that include gas stations, 7-Eleven convenience stores and Walmart stores. (Surveillance images courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department)
Onwuemelie was arrested at his residence, and evidence linking him to the robberies was also recovered at the scene, including a firearm, police said.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed 16 counts of robbery against Onwuemelie for the crimes that occurred in the city of Los Angeles, police said.
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“It is anticipated that additional charges will be filed by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department related to the robberies that occurred within L.A. County borders. It is believed that the suspect may be wanted for additional armed robberies in the area.”
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Detective Esther Myape at 213-486-6840. Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.