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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

"Bonnie & Clyde" Captured

Aired August 21, 2003 - 19:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: To some, they are the modern day version of Bonnie and Clyde. And to the others,they are the holiday bandits. But tonight the FBI says they are nothing short of caught. Two U.S. fugitives are now behind bars in South Africa accused of possibly a dozen bank robberies across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER (voice-over): From Montana to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, Nova Ether Guthrie and Craig Michael Pritchert allegedly roamed the western U.S. stealing half a million dollars and drawing comparisons to Bonnie and Clyde.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, this here is a stickup.

HEMMER: As in the film, reports say the modern day bank robbers carried a semi-automatic hand gun and typically wore masks during their capers.

And they were not sophisticated. Police say their tools of the trade were cheap handcuffs and duct tape to restrain bank workers.

And Guthrie, true a present day Bonnie, often drove the get-away car. They were on the lam for six years, until Wednesday when South African police arrested the cup until a Cape Town suburb. Officials expect them to be sent back to the U.S. for trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: Ultimate question right now: How did they allowed authorities for so long? Six years running.

A short time ago, I talked to the FBI special agent in charge, Susan Herskovits, about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN HERSKOVITS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, you know, it's hard to say. They did use aliases. They moved around quite a bit that we know of. We -- it seemed like we were always a little bit behind them. We'd find afterward they'd been in Belize or snow skiing in Oregon or in British Columbia. So we did find out where they'd been, but it wasn't until this month that we found out where they actually were.

HEMMER: Is that how they were spending their cash, on the beaches and in the mountains?

HERSKOVITS: That's what we believe. We think that they got to -- it appeared that they enjoyed a nice lifestyle, funded by bank robbery loot.

HEMMER: Did they ever harm anyone?

HERSKOVITS: Well, not to our knowledge, only inasmuch as they frightened people. They bound some of the victims, they pointed -- Craig Pritchert pointed a gun at people. So it depends on how you define harm. But they certainly frightened people.

HEMMER: It's my understanding that through time and through the number of robberies that they actually became very technically savvy in how they conducted these robberies. Tell us more about that.

HERSKOVITS: Well, as time went on, they started using radio equipment, Walkie Talkies, headsets. So Craig Pritchert could be in the bank and conversing with his get-away driver. It's also believed that he was probably listening to police scanners by using his headsets.

HEMMER: Yes. Have you -- have you ever seen crimes like these before carried out the way they did it?

HERSKOVITS: Well, we've seen elements of that in different robberies. But this is definitely a different -- different robbery duo. That's for sure.

HEMMER: We mentioned they were like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Do you go along with that analogy?

HERSKOVITS: Well, the way that they're like Bonnie and Clyde is they're a couple and they were serial bank robberies. They did robberies in six states. They lived a life on the run. But, you know, obviously Bonnie and Clyde killed people and to our knowledge, Mr. Pritchert and Nova Guthrie did not do that.

HEMMER: How did they get out of the United States and how were they able to essentially leave this country and get back in as well?

HERSKOVITS: That's a good question and I don't think that's been determined.

HEMMER: They were picked up in South Africa. How did you find them there?

HERSKOVITS: We were acting on a tip provided to the FBI in the United States.

HEMMER: Yes. And will they come back to this country?

HERSKOVITS: Yes, they will. Our information is that they could be back here as soon as Monday.

HEMMER: Yes. What were they doing in South Africa? HERSKOVITS: As far as I know, Craig Pritchert was not working, but Nova Guthrie was the manager of an upscale nightclub. It was ironically called the Bossa Nova, although our information is she was not using the name Nova in South Africa.

HEMMER: Ironic indeed. Back in this country possibly Monday. We will track it next week.

Susan Herskovits, thanks for your time in Phoenix, Arizona, tonight. Much appreciated.

HERSKOVITS: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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