San Francisco Man Charged With Multiple Bank Robberies, Business Burglaries

The robberies are not related to a recent aborted bank robbery in the Portola neighborhood, police say.

Police arrested a man they say is responsible for robbing two banks last week. They also charged him with a string of business burglaries in the Richmond District and North Beach.

Benjamin Chase, a 39-year-old resident of San Francisco, is currently being held without bond on multiple charges of burglary, robbery, and grand theft.

Police say Chase entered a bank on the 2200 block of Irving Street in the Sunset District on April 15 around 10:05 a.m. He handed the teller a note demanding money, received the cash, and fled.

Benjamin Chase. (Booking photo: SFPD)

Two days later, on April 17 at approximately 10:15 a.m., police say Chase entered another bank on the 300 block of Sixth Avenue in the Richmond District. The bank teller told police that Chase placed a note on the counter saying he had a gun and was robbing the bank. He took the money and left.

Chase was arrested later that evening at 5:25 p.m.

Police say Chase was also responsible for a series of burglaries in the Richmond District the week before the two bank robberies. Chase broke through the front windows of several businesses along Balboa Street. He took cash and tablet computers from some, while apparently leaving others empty handed.

According to authorities, a witness saw Chase crawling through the broken window of a business on the 2200 block of Mason Street in North Beach on April 11. An employee of the business later said an undetermined amount of money — and soda — was stolen.

The string of crimes appears to be unrelated to a flubbed bank robbery on San Bruno Avenue in the Portola neighborhood on April 15, where a man entered a bank and handed the teller a note demanding money. However, after the teller had trouble reading the note, the man left without any cash. No arrest has been made in that case.

“It wasn’t related to the one on San Bruno, because that was by all accounts an isolated incident,” said Adam Lobsinger, a San Francisco Police Department spokesperson. “We feel pretty good about saying that right now.”

SFPD was not immediately able to say how many bank robberies, or attempted bank robberies, had taken place in the city this year.

Chase is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

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