Inside The Mind Of A Bank Robber

Mind Of A Bank Robber

FBI agents are looking for a man they suspect has robbed several banks across the south, including one in Greensboro.   Investigators are calling the suspect "The Chameleon Beard Bandit." 

Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Lee of the FBI's Richmond Field Office said robberies took place in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas.

Investigators believe the "bandit" robbed the following financial institutions between September 2017 and January 2018:

  • Bank of America at 2 Park Drive in Durham, North Carolina on September 29, 2017
  • 1st Trust Bank at 271 London Shopping Center in London, Kentucky on October 13, 2017
  • Virginia Commonwealth Bank at 900 North Parham Road in Henrico, Virginia on November 14, 2017
  • Bank of America at 107 Muirs Chapel Road in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 17, 2017
  • Wells Fargo Bank at 1344 North Hershberger Road in Roanoke, Virginia on December 12, 2017
  • Chase Bank at 2606 Judson Road in Longview, Texas on January 5, 2018

The FBI released a description of the accused robber. Agents said he is white, stands 5'11” to 6’2” tall, and weighs approximately 180 to 240 pounds. He is in his mid to late 30s, has a medium build, brown eyes and hair, and a light complexion. He wears glasses and frequently changes the color of his beard.

But 2 Wants To Know (2WTK), what makes a bank robber tick?  For answers, we talked to an expert.

"Willie Sutton, one of the most famous bank robbers, said that's where the money is," says Bobby Little, chair of the High Point University's Criminal Justice Department.   "But it's well-guarded and people have a perception it might be easy to rob a bank even though the take is low and the risk is high."

Little explains there are two different types of bank robbers: organized and unorganized.  

An unorganized robber, for example, might be drunk or high and try and go after some money in the heat of the moment.  Little doesn't think that's the case with "The Chameleon Beard Bandit."  Little says he's probably watching the banks beforehand and checking to see when they're not busy.  He's also likely taking note of the cars in the parking lot and casing the property, all while trying to draw as little attention as possible.

"They'll try and do the robbery in a very discreet manner, often walk up with a note and then try to get the money as quickly as possible," Little explains.

Not all heists mean a big haul.  Little says on average robbers will net about $4,000- $5,500 from a robbery, but the price doesn't outweigh the risk. Chances are high they'll eventually get caught.

The good news is that robberies in general are on the decline.  According to Little's research, robberies are down about 50% across the nation as to where they were in the early 1990's.  Little says in the early 1990's robberies tallied at about 650,000 a year.  Now, they're at about 300,000-325,000 per year.  He adds that bank robberies are the least common of all kinds of robberies across the country.

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