Exclusive: ‘Bicycle Bandit’ says he’s sorry for robberies

Exclusive: ‘Bicycle Bandit’ says he’s sorry for robberies

The FBI nicknamed John Will the Bicycle Bandit because that’s what he chose as his getaway vehicle.

When John looks back at the crimes he committed, he says he’s surprised that he was willing to rob banks.

“It surprises me because I didn’t have to do it. I had other options,” he says.

John spent the fall of 2004 quietly and methodically robbing banks. He hesitated during an exclusive interview with KATU’s Anna Canzano before answering a question whether committing the crimes was easy.

“Yes and no. It was easy to do it but it was hard knowing what I was doing was wrong.”

He had a meth addiction and feeding it was all that mattered to him and to his wife, Sherry. She called it her “Jenny Crank diet.”

When he robbed a bank John says he just told the teller what he wanted, and he says on three occasions he told the teller he had a weapon. He says that weapon was a cap gun.

He didn’t use a fancy getaway car; instead, he used a mountain bike to flee from the scene. He used it over the course of two months at banks in Lake Oswego, Salem, Albany and Vancouver.

At each location John would drive his car to a spot nearby the bank, park and pull out his bike. He’d ride it to the target bank, stash it, commit the robbery, retrieve his bike and then ride away.

He says using a bike was easier because, “people would see a guy on a bicycle and then I would put the bike in my car or whatever.”

“Before he was arrested, a friend of ours at the time - she came over and she says, ‘Did you hear about that guy that robbed a bank and got away on a bicycle?’” says Sherry. “And I was like, ‘God, what kind of person was that? Oh geez, that’s ridiculous. That’s just stupid and ridiculous.’ And (John’s) like, ‘Well, yeah.’ And, you know, it was him.”

Sherry claims she didn’t know what her husband was up to. She says he was a gambler and told her that he was constantly winning. “I was like, ‘God, he’s the luckiest gambler that I’ve ever heard of.’”

But luck gave way to law and John was eventually arrested three blocks from his home. He served three years in prison.

“It just doesn’t pay and it’s just not worth it,” John says. “You’re going to get caught and you’re going to go to prison. And prison is not fun.”

John says he feels regret over the bank tellers he terrified, though he admits he can’t remember a single face.

“I hope they (the tellers) don’t waste any of their time thinking about me, because I’m not worth it for one. And two, just move on with your life, and I am sorry. And that’s why I want to do this (interview) – is to let them know I am sincere.”

John netted a total of $12,000 in his robberies which he is now slowly paying back. The FBI says three years of prison time was a pretty light sentence given his five convictions, but the judge gave him credit for his commitment to drug rehabilitation.