FBI and police team up to name bank robbery bandits

From the first documented bank robbery in Missouri in 1866, Americans have had a fascination with bank robbers.

It's one of the few crimes where the bad guys and girls earn a nickname, courtesy of local police and the FBI.

From "Pretty Boy Floyd," to "Scarface," to "Machine Gun Kelly," monikers have long been a useful tool in identifying and capturing criminals. 

In this conference room at the FBI's Phoenix Office, they've come up with some doozies to catch bank robbers. 

Who could forget the "Mrs. Doubtfire Bandit?" it was a man dressed like a woman.

There's the "Hotheaded Bandit," note the flames on the bill of his hat.

"The Smile E. Coyote" robber, he always had a big smile on his face.

And the "Raggedy Ann" robber, she had red hair.

All of them were captured by authorities.

"We look at a common thread between the robberies and we see if there is anything that's been seen and noticed," said Sergeant James Bracke, with the Phoenix Police Department. 

This team of FBI agents and local police investigators brainstorm to find a nickname that will stick in the public consciousness.

"We focus on the looks in the pictures, and we consult with one another, and that's how we do it," said Bracke.

Melissa Henratty, an FBI Intelligence Analyst, has the final say.

"Many of my suggestions are immediately shot down by Melissa," he said.

But if a name makes the final cut, it often helps lead to an arrest.

"So somebody out there has seen him, or will recognize him, and that's where we get a lot of our help from, somebody has seen him somewhere," said FBI Agent Ty Woods.

And the bank robbers often keep tabs on their own pictures and nicknames.

"They'll look at themselves on TV, they'll look on the website, we've talked to guys who say yeah I saw myself on TV a few weeks ago," said Phoenix Police Detective Ray O'Neil.

"They've told us in various ways they didn't like that name, and it goes to show they're watching," said a Woods.

The "Irreconcilable Differences Bandit" earned his name after admitting he needed money for an impending divorce, he hated his moniker. So did the "Face for Radio" bandit.

"Actually wrote on the back of his demand note that he didn't like his name, or he said it wasn't nice," said FBI Analyst Melissa Henratty.

The FBI and police have arrested 30 of 32 bank robbers so far this year. The crooks rarely get away with the crime.

But there are two the FBI and local police are eager to catch.

"The Sabbatical Bandit," named for the long periods between his heists.

"The Sabbatical bandit has hit four times, generally Scottsdale and the East Valley, he originally hit a few years ago, and then last summer he hit three times, we haven't seen him since," said Woods.

He also pointed a black revolver at the teller. They're concerned because he might hurt someone.

Then there is the "Stolen Valor Bandit," she wears military gear during her robberies.

"Stolen Valor, has done two in the State of Arizona, and we're fairly confident she's done at least 8 or 9 in different states," said O'Neil.

The names represent the best attempt at characterizing the robber.

But there is one more bandit they're hoping to find.

"Male suspect, he's commonly frequenting the downtown area of Phoenix. Nicely dressed, someone unusual, with a female accomplice, described as a female with short hair," said Woods.

So the team came up with a few different ideas, one of them is the double-breasted bandit.

"Since we catch most of our guys anyway, let's just call him the "Hook, Lake, and Sinker Bandit," said a team member.

Most bank robberies happen on Fridays, and most do not involve a weapon. Instead, they have a verbal demand or a note.

For a few thousand dollars netted in a typical bank robbery, the penalty is severe; up to 10 years in prison.

The FBI has a list of bank robbers on their website here: https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov/
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