- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

A serial bank robber has won the nickname the “All-Star Robber” by wearing different Major League Baseball caps during a string of hold-ups while eluding authorities in Chicago for the past two months.

The FBI began offering a $5,000 reward last week for information leading to the identification and arrest of the All-Star Robber, who so far is believed to be responsible for as many as six bank robberies in the city.

During the most recent hold-up, on July 17, the bandit entered a Citibank branch and approached a teller. After displaying a handgun, he demanded money from the teller’s cash draw, then fled the bank on foot.

The FBI declined to say how much the All-Star Robber has netted, although one official said the robber isn’t walking out of banks with more than what is in the contents of a single teller’s cash drawer.

But the bureau isn’t pulling any punches. Saying the All-Star Robber will hit again, authorities hope the reward, coupled with publicity brought by the nickname, will create more leads toward finding the bandit’s identity.

“We try to come up with a name that fits that would ring with the public,” said FBI Special Agent Frank Bochte of the bureau’s Chicago field office.

The All-Star Robber has been armed and has threatened to use a weapon during each of his robberies, although no injuries have been reported. Agent Bochte said the robber enters banks with a gun in his pants and that without ever pulling the weapon into the open, he lifts up his jacket and shows it to the teller, threatening to use it.

Based on witness descriptions, investigators say they believe the robber visits banks before each hold-up, often asking about an account. What he’s really doing is “some type of reconnaissance” to evaluate the security he’ll be up against, Agent Bochte said.

So far the robber has focused on banks in what authorities described as “fairly nice areas,” with one hold-up occurring in the heart of Chicago’s business district. That bank, as well as the vast majority of others in Chicago, is not equipped with thick plexiglass partitions separating tellers from customers, authorities said.

Without the plexiglass it could be easier for a single robber to conduct a successful hold-up because he can focus discretely on a specific teller without attracting the attention of the entire bank.

The FBI described the All-Star Robber as a black man, 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall, of medium build and bald with a slight growth of facial hair on his chin. The bureau said a second man, believed to be an accomplice in some of the robberies, is also black, and the same age and height but of a heavier build.

Authorities said there’s no indication the All-Star Robber is hitting banks anywhere beyond Chicago. “Very seldom, if ever does that occur,” Agent Bochte said. “Most bank robbers, especially serial robbers that are caught, are supporting a drug habit.”

As a result, about 80 percent of serial bank robbers end up getting caught, he said, adding that, contrary to the “romanticized version” of bank robbers, money from small-time hold-ups typically runs out paying for drugs.

That’s when a robber decides to hit another bank. “The more a person continues to rob, eventually, almost always, they are caught,” Agent Bochte said.

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