Richmond County sheriff: Bald Bandits arrested

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

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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  • by Lynnsey Gardner Location: WRDW on Jun 18, 2007 at 09:43 AM
    Neighbors of Mr. Cates said the woman was his girlfriend, but News 12 learned two days later that the woman in question was in fact his wife. Thank you for the clarification.
  • by yo mama Location: anywhere, usa on Jun 15, 2007 at 09:57 PM
    the media doesn't know anything of the truth, and apparently doesn't care to. Why bring Cates's son into this? Obviously the son is trying to make a better life for himself defending us & our country. It would be nice if the son could get his hat back, as he requested. I also happen to know that Cates was on probation & not on parole. Just another reminder that you can't believe anything you hear & less than half of what you see. thanks media for bringing us the facts!!! NOT!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 15, 2007 at 09:31 AM
    Brian is married that is not his girlfriend. It is his wife and he was not on parole. He served his full sentence for his past convictions. Please get your facts.
  • by eric wright Location: compton on Jun 11, 2007 at 08:25 PM
    its good to see "richmond county's finest" is doing SOMETHING
  • by tyler Location: naval station mayport FL on Jun 4, 2007 at 06:55 PM
    this is brians son just wanted to say....WOW OFS kinda want my hat back though
  • by john Location: augusta on Jun 4, 2007 at 09:36 AM
    cates was on probation not parole
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