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Meet Chicago's bank robbers

  • Winnie-the-Pooh Bandit
Winnie-the-Pooh Bandit (FBI )
December 06, 2012|By Mick Swasko, @mickswasko | RedEye

Serial bank robbers—or crooks who commit three or more heists—don't make off with just cash. They also sometimes get a nickname from the FBI.

Special Agent Ross Rice of Chicago's FBI field office is in charge of coming up with the monikers for the repeat offenders. He said there isn't a science to it. Rather, the designations have a two-fold purpose: make the name stick in the media and public's mind, and make the criminals easily identifiable to the law enforcement officials working on the case.

"It's looking at the facts and working with the investigator to come up with the name," he said. It can be something the robber says, wears, the locations they hit or even the mode of transportation they use. "We've found that the news media and the public are more likely to follow a story when they have some sort of name or moniker," he said.

RedEye put together a roundup of some of the infamous and unusual bandits the FBI has identified.

The Wheaton Bandit

Responsible for 16 bank robberies between 2002 and 2007. The statute of limitations expired to apprehend the Wheaton Bandit, who hit banks in Winfield, Glen Ellyn and, most commonly, Wheaton.

Winnie-the-Pooh Bandit

Named for the honey-loving bear that the suspect had on his sweatshirt, he was arrested in 2009 after being suspected of three Chicago-area armed robberies.

The Red Line Robber

Arrested in 2009 in connection with at least nine Chicago-area bank robberies, he was suspected of using the CTA as his mode of transportation and getaway.

The Swine Flu Bandit

So dubbed because of a surgical mask he wore during robberies, he was sentenced in January to 20 years in prison in connection with nine heists.

The Tire Iron Bandit

Still on the loose, a man who brandished a tire iron was named for his weapon of choice at two suburban banks earlier this year.

mswasko@tribune.com

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