FBI: Wacky nicknames nab bank robbers; Pony Tail bandit on the run

So can a nutty, wacky or amusing moniker really help the FBI and other police officials more quickly catch bank robbers? There seems to be some anecdotal evidence from the FBI that says it is so. At least the FBI never seems to be at a loss for calling a bank robber by another name. For example here is a very short list of FBI-named bank bandits the agency has caught or is currently looking for:

Pony tail Bandit

Goofy Hat Bandit

Irreconcilable Differences Bandit

Grocery Store Bandit

- Paint by Numbers Bandit

Pepper Spray Bandit

Impersonator Bandit

The FBI says that these monikers plus the liberal use of still photos and video surveillance and the Web helps that catch bank robbers who last year swiped some $72 million.

For example, the FBI says the "Ponytail Bandit" is a pretty young woman whose shoulder-length blonde ponytail sprouts from the back of her baseball cap in images captured by banks she allegedly robbed in three states in May.

Ponytailed bandit

In each case she approaches bank tellers, demands money, and then waits, arms crossed, slouching slightly, as tellers comply. In a release the FBI says she doesn't seem to fit the stereotype of a bank robber-brazen, masked, gun-slinging, but her story has drawn a lot of interest. But the bottom line is the woman captured on grainy bank surveillance tapes in Texas, California, and Washington is a bank robber committing a crime, the FBI says. Here's a short list of what the FBI is doing with odd monikers and the Web:

* In Seattle, the FBI is the man behind some of the most unique names assigned to bank robbers - "Attila the Bun," "Groundhog Day Bandit," Hollywood Bandit." The catchy names serve dual purposes - a hook for media attention to help solve robberies and a tool to help investigators track serial suspects. Meanwhile, to help prevent bank robberies in the first place, the FBI developed a tactic designed to put potential robbers on their heels-shower them with immediate personal service.

* In Baltimore, the FBI worked with public and private entities last year to create a website specifically to spotlight suspected bank robbers in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia regions. The site, bankbandits.org, is seeded with a catalog of surveillance images from area bank robberies and offers a way to provide tips online.

* In Los Angeles, the FBI, through partnerships with other agencies, created labankrobbers.org, which covers seven counties in Southern California. The site, like Baltimore's, features dozens of still surveillance images, as well as a category of "serial bandits" distinguished by colorful monikers assigned by Agent May-"Bad Rug Bandit," "Banana Bandit," "Paparazzi Bandit."

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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