For more than a decade he has been distinguished by his limp, his stature and his signature habit of jumping over counters in a series of bank robberies.
And now, the “Too Tall Bandit” is back in action.
The F.B.I. field office in Charlotte, N.C., announced this week that law enforcement authorities were searching for a man believed to be responsible for at least 16 bank robberies across three states since 2009. The latest was at the United Community Bank in Etowah, N.C., last Friday, it said.
“The serial bank robber nicknamed the ‘Too Tall Bandit’ has struck again,” the office said in a statement on Tuesday.
Law enforcement authorities in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina have been searching for the man they believe is behind a string of robberies that began in 2009, starting with a bank in White House, Tenn., the F.B.I. said.
He came to be known as the Too Tall Bandit as the authorities linked one robbery to another through matching descriptions of a masked man, stringing together a criminal spree longer than many people hold honest jobs.
Described as a white male approximately 40 years old, the Too Tall Bandit is between six and six and a half feet tall. He could weigh up to 250 pounds, the authorities said, and may have brown eyes.
In each robbery, he wears a disguise, including a mask and gloves. He is also dangerous, armed with a black handgun, the statement said.
The F.B.I. said it was working with local and state law enforcement authorities to track the man down and was offering up to $15,000 for information that would help identify a suspect.
Video surveillance over the years shows his quirks. In one video, he climbs over a counter, making a tiny Christmas decoration wobble. Autumn and winter appear to be his favorite seasons: Most of the 16 robberies in which the Too Tall Bandit is a suspect took place in October, November and December. His limp seems pronounced in his right leg.
The first robbery he is suspected in was at Volunteer State Bank in Tennessee on Nov. 27 — 11 years to the day before the most recent one, in Etowah, N.C., according to the F.B.I.
On Nov. 12, 2010, the man held up Sumner Bank & Trust in Gallatin, Tenn., the statement said. In 2012, also in November, he is believed to have hit a SunTrust Bank in Franklin, then lain low until 2014, when he is thought to have carried out a robbery at First Tennessee Bank in Farragut.
According to the statement, after three more in Tennessee in 2014, 2015 and 2016, he crossed state lines into North Carolina, where he is suspected of robbing Home Trust Bank, in Arden, in 2016.
Another bank robbery followed in South Carolina the same year, and then two more in Tennessee in 2017, the F.B.I. list shows.
In 2018, 2019 and 2020, five more banks were robbed: one in Tennessee and four in North Carolina, including the one in Etowah.
“The F.B.I. believes these robberies were committed by the same suspect,” the statement said.
It was not immediately clear where or when the Too Tall Bandit got his nickname, but the F.B.I. often gives such nicknames to facilitate publicity, as with the “Headband Bandit” in San Francisco in 2016, the smiling “Bombshell Bandit” in Los Angeles in 2014 and the “Longhorn Bandit” in Texas in 2017.
In Knoxville, the F.B.I. described the Too Tall Bandit in 2017 as sometimes wearing a Halloween mask during the robberies. He has ordered bank employees to point out the bait money or dye packs, which can help the authorities track him, before stuffing cash in his backpack and ordering them to lie on the floor when he makes his getaway, the F.B.I. said.
He is a right-handed, deep-voiced robber, the Knoxville field office has said. Sometimes, he has been known to go around the teller counter instead of leaping over it.
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