A Chicago man has achieved some bank-robbing notoriety in recent days, having successfully robbed and fled 10 banks, many in the trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, since the 29th of November.
The “Wicker Park Bandit” typically enters banks, in most cases either a Chase Bank or a North Community Bank, and hands a note to the teller, indicating he is armed with a gun. The teller hands cash to the bandit, and he flees to safety.
No one has been hurt, and the police have a wide range of photographs of the man. Following the January 28 robbery, the FBI described the man as “Black, between the ages of 20 to 30, standing 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall. He had a goatee and was wearing a black skull cap, black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.”
Pictures of the robber are clear and show him entering different banks and speaking with tellers. In the January 28 robbery “the suspect indicated he was armed. He fled after being handed an undisclosed amount of money.”
The Chicago north-side Wicker Park area is unique: reminiscent of the San Francisco Haight/Ashbury district of the early new-culture 1960s, or Chicago’s Old Town of that same colorful era. It combines boutiques, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and coffeehouses, and internet cafés are packed day and evening with coffee drinkers navigating laptops.
Of the Wicker Park Bandit, one Brian Pratt, a bank customer who witnessed one of the robberies, said, “You gotta wonder what’s going on with the investigation. I mean, apparently they have the picture of the guy and still no one can find him!”
Not all the robberies have taken place in Wicker Park. Witnesses expressed surprise when the same man, this Wicker Park Bandit, struck a north side bank just across the street from Lane Tech High School, one of Chicago’s largest and most celebrated high schools, and just two blocks from Area 3 police headquarters. “I was on my way to Costco yesterday, driving on Western, and there were, like, three police trucks parked. And I wondered if the bank had been robbed,” said bank customer Elan Savitt, in regards to the Chase robbery near Lane Tech High.
The first robbery happened on November 29, 2011 at a North Community Bank branch; the second at Chase Bank in Lincoln Park on December 7, 2011.
Speaking of the robbery on December 24, at 71 W. Chicago Avenue, the FBI is quoted as saying, “the suspect implied he had a weapon but never showed one. And [he] hasn’t displayed a weapon or caused injuries in any of the alleged crimes. The man reportedly wore a black leather jacket and black knit hat. In other robberies, and has also wore a tan hat.”
The FBI described all of the robberies as non-takeover robberies. A reward is being offered for information leading to his arrest.