Two American fugitives, on the FBI’s most wanted list for a spate of bank robberies across the American West, were arrested in Cape Town on Tuesday after years on the run, the South African Police Service said.
Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said information was received in July from the FBI that Craig Michael Pritchert (40) and Nova Ester Gutherie (30) were in South Africa.
The South African police traced them and kept them under observation.
The Cape Argus reported that Gutherie, using the alias ”Andy Brown”, has been working as a manager at the upmarket Bossa Nova nightclub in trendy Green Point for two years. She and Pritchert lived in a flat not far from the club.
Martins-Engelbrecht said: ”So far as we are aware the couple entered South Africa legally and have broken none of our laws since they’ve been in the country, but according to the FBI the couple are wanted for a number of robberies between 1996 and 1999.”
An international warrant of arrest was made out through Interpol charging Pritchert and Gutherie with committing armed robberies in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Oregon, Martins-Engelbrecht said.
Apparently the couple robbed banks either early in the morning or at closing time and Pritchert was always armed with a semi-automatic handgun and used duct tape, cheap handcuffs or plastic ties to bind bank employees. Gutherie drove the getaway car.
The Cape Argus report added that Pritchert, working alone, robbed a number of banks in Las Vegas in the late 1980s — apparently to support his out-of-control gambling habit. He was then arrested and sent to jail for several years.
After his release, Pritchert lost substantial amounts of money on the Internet and six months later robbed a bank in Arizona. He then met the young Gutherie and they fell in love — and became partners in crime.
Psychologists working for the FBI said robbing banks was the ultimate sexual rush for the couple, who retreated to motels after robberies to make love.
”They will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where a case will be made for their extradition to America. This can be a lengthy legal process if they decide to appeal the extradition,” Martins-Engelbrecht said. — Sapa