Were area bank heists pulled by same lunchtime bandit?

Seeking white male, slender in his late 20s to early 30s, who’s fast on his feet.

It may sound like a personal ad, but it’s actually the characteristics listed on wanted bulletins of a seemingly lone bank robber who has plagued branches near or north of the Perimeter in the last month.

Seven banks from northwest Atlanta to Dunwoody describe this lunchtime bandit striking often just before noon, wearing a variety of baseball caps pulled low on his face, making off with untold amounts of cash, and eventually driving away in a burgundy or maroon Chevrolet Tahoe missing a rear hub cap.

Or maybe seven different guys with uncanny resemblance have managed to pull separate bank heists -- twice at the same bank, and three out of the last four Fridays -- and escaped in eerily similar getaway SUVs.

Federal and local authorities and area bank security officials are calling this mystery suspect a serial bank robber.

“It’s very plausible that if he’s hitting one bank (in an area), he could be responsible for others nearby,” FBI spokesman Special Agent Stephen Emmett said.

The Web site GeorgiaBankRobbery.com, maintained by the FBI, local police and the Georgia Association of Banks Security, shows surveillance photos from the bandit’s exploits under the title of "serial robbers."

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of this robber.

The man's M.O. changes slightly from one incident to the next. He usually strikes at or just before noon, but there have been afternoon and early morning robberies. He shows no obvious appearance of a weapon to reinforce the demand for money, but he has appeared on occasion to have shoved his hand into his pocket, creating the facade of an armed robbery.

Sometimes he uses a demand note, sometimes not.

Sunglasses, or ball cap pulled down low, never looking up to the camera.

On Friday around noon, a man entered the Wachovia Bank at 3351 Riversood Parkway, near Cumberland Mall, and demanded money from a teller, police spokesman Officer Joe Hernandez said.

Police descriptions – and subsequent security video stills – matched the profile.

The Bank of America at 2454 Jett Road in Dunwoody was struck by a man fitting this description on Nov. 12, just before noon, police said.

Dunwoody police Detective Kelly Gobley said robberies at the Wachovia Bank branch at 4570 Ashford Dunwoody Road on Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 both, “appear to involve the same suspect.”

Were these robberies committed by the same man?

“We are not ruling out that possibility,” said Dunwoody police spokesman Sgt. Michael Carlson.

So if the suspect of these bank heist is, in fact the same guy, why has he kept at it?

“At some point you become cocky and believe that you get away with it,” Sandy Springs police spokesman Lt. Steve Rose said. “Robbers do this a lot of times thinking they’re going to get $20,000 or so, and only get maybe $1,500.”

“But you risk a lot,” Rose said. “Twenty years in prison for not a lot of money.”

While Rose speculates that tough economic times may drive bank robbers, the FBI’s Emmett offers a different scenario.

“If you notice a spike, it’s due to the upcoming holidays,” Emmett said. “We typically see a bump, then."

A man known as the "Blue-eyed Bandit" managed to elude police after robbing several metro Atlanta area banks around this time last year -- and was never caught, authorities said.

And south metro police are currently looking for a man they believe has robbed banks in Morrow, Forest Park and other Clayton County bank branches.

Although Emmett wouldn't discuss the rate of bank robber captures, he said serial bank robbers tend to continue until they're caught.

"And yes, they are eventually caught," he said.

David Oliver, spokesman for the Georgia Bankers Association, said area banks use several databases that update branches about robberies, almost in real time.

“If there’s a rash of robberies in a certain area, banks in that area have situational training to update employees,” Oliver said. “It’s a shared response among the banking and law enforcement communities.”

But Rose offers a simpler way to prevent at least this one baseball-capped bandit from robbing any more banks.

“They need to create a new law that you can’t wear sunglasses and hats in banks,” he said.

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