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Jobless Arizona bank robber says he "stole to survive"

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A jobless man accused of robbing a dozen banks across the Phoenix valley told investigators he did it to survive and that "desperation was a great motivator," authorities said on Tuesday.

Police arrested Cristian Alfredo Urquijo, 39, in July. He was charged with robbing 12 banks in the metro Phoenix area from September 2010 through July, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona said in a news release.

The criminal complaint released on Tuesday noted that Urquijo told arresting officers he had been laid off from work, was unable to find a job, and robbed the Phoenix area banks to survive.

"It's pretty simple. It's black and white. I don't have a job, I had to work, and I rob to survive," he said, adding "desperation is a great motivator."

During the crime spree he was dubbed the 'black binder bandit' by investigators, because he sometimes hid a revolver inside a black binder.

The complaint also noted that Urquijo got up courage to carry out the robberies by drinking beer beforehand, telling officers: "I had to drink a lot to have the bravery."

When he was arrested in late July, the hapless crook had left his dog in a parked car, and asked police to remove it because of the summer heat, which routinely tops 100 Fahrenheit.

Urquijo has been detained pending trial, and his arraignment is set for August 31.

The 16-count indictment charged Urquijo with bank robbery, armed bank robbery and use of a firearm to commit a violent crime.

If convicted, he faces jail terms of 20 to 35 years on the various charges, together with fines of $250,000, or both.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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