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The 'Geezer' strikes SLO

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It looks like the “Geezer Bandit” has struck again—this time at a busy downtown San Luis Obispo Bank of America—and though he got away, it appears that the strain of age may be impacting the elusive culprit.

DIRTY OLD MAN? :  The serial bank robber popularly known as the “Geezer Bandit” struck again on the Central Coast as both local and federal investigators continue to follow up on an interesting lead. - PHOTO COURTESY SLOPD
  • PHOTO COURTESY SLOPD
  • DIRTY OLD MAN? : The serial bank robber popularly known as the “Geezer Bandit” struck again on the Central Coast as both local and federal investigators continue to follow up on an interesting lead.

Just as the Friday rush hour began around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2, a man entered the branch at the intersection of Santa Rosa and Higuera streets, calmly waited for the next teller, then revealed a gun and handed over a note demanding cash, eyewitnesses told investigators.

According to a SLO Police Department press release, the suspect was handed an undisclosed amount of cash containing a dye pack, which went off as he was heading on foot through the bank’s parking lot, spraying some of the money with bright red permanent paint.

The suspect then discarded some of the money, dropping the note allegedly used in the heist, and was last seen scurrying away on foot. A witness unaware of the ongoing incident later reported seeing a white BMW Five Series leave a parking stall near Marsh and Toro streets at “a high rate of speed,” according to the release. It remains undetermined whether the car is related to the robbery.

The bandit is described as an elderly white male, about 6-foot-4, weighing approximately 175 pounds, and was seen wearing black slacks, a white shirt with a black tie, a blue baseball hat, and glasses. Witnesses inside the bank reported that the man’s face “looked like plastic,” as if he was wearing a mask.

Local authorities are working in conjunction with the FBI, which confirmed Dec. 3 that the suspect in the latest robbery appears to be the infamous Geezer Bandit, who has gained a following across the country—even spawning a Facebook fan page—for his unique modus operandi. The agency has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

The Bank of America robbery marks the sixteenth incident tied to the Geezer, the most recent being a Wells Fargo in the city of La Jolla, in San Diego County, on Sept. 30.

This is not the Geezer’s first hit on the Central Coast. On May 27, he allegedly robbed a Heritage Oaks Bank in Morro Bay. Following that heist, Morro Bay Police Department detectives turned their attention to the Los Angeles-based special effects company SPFX Masks, which specializes in realistic silicone masks, and has been featured in movies, on television shows such as Discovery Channel’s Myth Busters and ABC News, and in Esquire magazine.

According to investigator records, witnesses in the Morro Bay robbery told officers they felt the robber was trying to lower his voice to sound older, and he appeared to be wearing flesh-colored gloves. The suspect also appeared to have knowledge of bank operations, repeatedly asking, “There’s no dye packs, right?” and demanding cash from the tellers’ bottom cash drawers.

The culprit also allegedly brandished a revolver and told bank patrons, “If anybody follows me, they will get shot!”

Local investigators discovered an “uncanny” similarity between images of the Geezer and a mask sold on the SPFX website called “the Elder.” With the understanding that no agency had extensively followed up on the SPFX lead, Morro Bay detectives filed a court order for SPFX’s PayPal account records, hoping to find transactions that could ultimately identify the Geezer.

The detective who filed the court order couldn’t be reached for comment, but Morro Bay Police Chief Tim Olivas confirmed to New Times the department’s action. Because the investigation is ongoing, Olivas declined to comment further.

Ray Cavaleri, a spokesperson for SPFX Masks, declined to speak with New Times except to say the company is “sick of talking about the Geezer Bandit.”

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