One Mistake Led Law Enforcement Right to Door of ‘Big Cheese Bandit'

The complaint claims Ryan Nelson went to two banks in San Diego and threatened to start shooting if they didn't give him any money

A key piece of evidence led the FBI right to the door of a bandit accused of stealing more than $10,000 from two San Diego-area banks last month.

Investigators dubbed Ryan Nelson the "Big Cheese Bandit."

NBC 7 obtained a copy Tuesday of a complaint filed in federal court against Nelson, which details his alleged involvement in two bank robberies: one on Aug. 15 and the other on Aug. 23.

The complaint claims Nelson walked up to a U.S. Bank counter inside a Vons grocery store on El Cajon Boulevard on Aug. 15 and demanded a teller hand over cash.

Nelson stated, "Grab a bag. Start with your 100s. Put all the money in the bag and give it to me or I'm gonna shoot."

During the robbery, the FBI said Nelson pretended as if he was talking on his phone.

The teller followed Nelson's orders and, that day, Nelson walked out the door carrying $1,300, investigators confirmed.

Eight days later Nelson walked into a Wells Fargo Bank inside a Vons store on University Avenue in La Mesa. Again, while pretending to talk on his phone, the FBI said Nelson demanded money from a teller and said he'd start shooting unless the teller handed over the cash.

That day, Nelson left with $9,600.

After that second heist, Nelson went to the La Mesa Boulevard trolley station. Surveillance photographs captured by MTS San Diego Transit Enforcement show Nelson had altered his outfit, adding a jacket, hat and sunglasses.

The robbery suspect had to swipe his transit Compass Card to board the trolley. The card was registered to a Ryan Nelson.

The FBI then searched his name and image in California DMV records. The driver's license photo matched the photo of the robber from both banks.

On Aug. 29, two weeks after the first bank robbery, the San Diego Violent Crimes Task Force knocked on Nelson's door.

According to the complaint, investigators found a loaded semi-automatic handgun, some of the clothes Nelson wore during the robberies, and more than $2,000 in cash in his possession.

The complaint said Nelson admitted to both bank robberies.

[G] San Diego Bank Bandits

Contact Us