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Bank robbery suspect nabbed

A bank robber with a penchant for classic cars was arrested last Wednesday after he took the 1964 custom-built Buick bought with the money he allegedly stole to the weekly classic car cruise at the Port Orchard A&W.

It was the car’s lurid purple paint job that did him in, police say.

Officers from the Mason and Kitsap County sheriff’s departments and FBI agents were en route to Michael Roger Yates’ Manchester home when they spotted his new set of wheels in the parking lot of the A&W on Mile Hill Drive. Officers immediately pulled in and arrested Yates for allegedly knocking over Belfair’s Peninsula Credit Union for more than $15,000 Aug. 23.

“It was a very unique vehicle,” said Det. Mike Davis of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department.

Mason County enlisted the help of Kitsap County when the Mason department received numerous telephone tips from people indicating Yates might be the culprit. Mason County Undersheriff Gary Crane said the callers noted Yates’ new car and wondered how he could afford it since he had no job.

“They just thought it was kind of odd,” Crane said.

Davis said the Kitsap department was on standby all day Wednesday while Mason County and the FBI decided when to make their move.

Because of banks’ link with the federal government, the FBI is called in on all bank robberies.

“It’s their case,” Davis said. “We were just the agency assist.”

The Buick, which Yates apparently bought in Silverdale shortly after the robbery, was seized incident to the arrest.

Yates, who was arrested for first-degree armed robbery and first-degree possession of stolen property, will be prosecuted in Mason County Superior Court. Deputy Prosecutor Reinhold Schuetz said because of the holiday, Yates will be officially charged Tuesday if the FBI doesn’t take over. Schuetz said the federal government has the right to invoke jurisdiction and prosecute Yates itself if it chooses to.

“It’s possible, but I haven’t heard any direct communication on it,” Schuetz said.

Crane said Yates could also be a suspect in another robbery that occurred at the same credit union 18 months ago.

As of Friday afternoon, Yates was still in jail. His bail was set at $100,000.

Davis said, unlike many criminals picked up by the sheriff’s department, Yates was a virtual unknown to law enforcement officials.

“He doesn’t really have a history,” Davis said. “At least, not with us.”

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