OAKLAND -- The third time was not the charm for the man suspected of robbing a North Oakland Safeway store, police said Thursday.

Christopher Banks, 22, who police said successfully robbed the Safeway at 5130 Broadway twice before, was foiled Sunday when he was chased, tackled and held for police by store employees and customers after trying to rob a cashier at knifepoint.

Officer Nick Calonge said Banks, a transient, confessed to the attempted heist Sunday as well as robberies at the store on March 10 and March 29. He got several thousand dollars in the two earlier robberies and told police he spent the money on "life necessities," Calonge said. He did not give a reason why he continually targeted the North Oakland store.

He also admitted setting fire to some bushes next to his ex-girlfriend's North Oakland home Saturday because he was angry at her, police said.

Banks was charged Thursday with three counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted armed robbery and one count of arson of an inhabited dwelling, all felonies. He is being held in lieu of $450,000 bail.

Calonge said Banks, armed with a knife and BB gun, came to the store about 1:10 p.m. Sunday and first tried to get into an office where the store safe was kept but could not gain entry.

He then tried to rob a clerk at knifepoint, but as he was trying to grab money out of a cash drawer, other employees saw what was happening and tried to stop him, police said. He ran but was tackled by an employee before he could get out of the store and was held for police by employees and customers who joined the fray, police said.


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The knife and BB gun were recovered, and a bottle of an accelerant found in the backpack Banks had linked him to the Saturday fire, police said.

Police said Banks on March 29 first tried unsuccessfully to rob a cashier before forcing another employee at knifepoint to open an office where Banks stole some cash and escaped. In the March 10 holdup, an employee had a knife put to her neck and was forced to take the suspect to a room, where money was stolen from cash drawers, police said.