Richmond County sheriff: Bald Bandits arrested

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, June 2, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA - The men nicknamed the Bald Bandits are behind bars. Investigators say Brian Cates and Christopher LeFever were involved with 12 robberies across the CSRA. Cates lives on Wheeler Lake Road in Augusta. He was arrested there, but his neighbors say they had no idea he was involved.

The Richmond County Sheriff says the bald and bold bandits are in custody after weeks on the run. Investigators identify the gunman as 33-year-old Christopher LeFever. He was arrested Friday night at a Columbia South Carolina hotel.

Deputies say the getaway driver, who they identify as 40-year-old Brian Cates, was apprehended at his west Augusta home that same afternoon.

Neighbor David Best saw it all unfold firsthand and said, "I looked out the window and saw a lot of officers, investigators with badges and guns, and I didn't know what was going on, and I saw the guy who lives across the street and he was in handcuffs."

Arrested for the part investigators say he played in a three week crime spree of armed robberies that spanned three counties.

Eight of the holdups were just a few miles from Cates' home, including Eckerds, the Regions Bank, the Family Dollar, and five convenience stores.

After officers released the description of the getaway car, neighbors say they never could've imagined that same silver four door car sat parked in Cates' driveway was the same car officers believed was being used in the robberies.

"Never thought because there are so many silver cars. If they had said Tennessee plates, it would've rang a bell," said neighbor Lori Best.

Neighbors say Cates had lived at the home with his girlfriend and two children since last August. His oldest son had recently enlisted in the Navy, a mark proudly displayed on the family's other vehicle, and more famously on the hat deputies say LeFever wore for several of the robberies. A crime spree that is now over without anyone getting hurt, which investigators and Cates' neighbors are grateful for.

"It helps to know the investigators can work between the three counties and solve these cases. I think they should be commended for doing their jobs," Added David Best.

Cates was on parole at the time of his arrest. He's been convicted of several other crimes in the past, including strong armed robbery, burglary and assault. Investigators say the two men met each other sometime ago in prison and used the money to buy drugs. LeFever is in Columbia awaiting an extradition hearing.

As you can imagine, there were several agencies involved here helping in the arrest of the two suspects, including the Richmond, Columbia, and Aiken County Sheriff's Offices and the FBI.

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