ROY — The FBI is using electronic billboards in strategic locations across the country to nab the elusive Bucket List Bandit, who is wanted for bank robberies in eight states, including Utah.
The Bucket List Bandit was first nicknamed by the Standard-Examiner because he passed a threatening note to a teller at a Wells Fargo Bank at 5603 S. 1900 West in Roy on July 6, claiming he only had four months to live.
Since then his cross-country crime spree has included bank robberies in Arvada, Colo.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Pocatello, Idaho; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Bloomington, Ill., Columbia, Mo., and O’Fallon, Mo. The two Missouri banks were robbed last week.
No one has been injured in any of the holdups. The Bucket List Bandit has not displayed a weapon but has implied that he has one in several robberies.
Rebecca Wu, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s St. Louis office, said roadside electronic billboards will be used for at least two weeks in several areas where the Bucket List Bandit has struck, in the hope that it will generate leads from the public.
“His picture is clear enough and wherever they see him, whether it’s on the billboard, on our wanted flier, on TV or in the newspaper, they will recognize him,” Wu said.
Two of the billboards are in the St. Louis area and one is near Charleston, S.C., but information about the locations of the other billboards was not available. Wu said there is not a billboard in the Roy area.
The FBI has an agreement with several billboard companies that donate space on electronic signs to catch fugitives, Wu said.
The billboards have proven successful and resulted in the arrest of the “Granddad Bandit,” who was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison for robbing 26 banks in 14 states. Michael Francis Mara, graying and balding, earned the nickname for his grandfatherly appearance. And, in fact, he is a grandfather.
Serial bank robbers are not unusual, but most commit their crimes in a specific region, Wu said.
Each time the Bucket List Bandit has entered a bank, he has presented a teller with a note demanding cash. He has also been seen with a black, zippered portfolio.
He is described as white, 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall, 55 to 60 years old, with a thin build, gray hair and a mustache. He has been seen wearing glasses, jeans and a blue polo or T-shirt.
According to bank surveillance photos, the Bucket List Bandit hasn’t tried to conceal his identity. Wu said that isn’t unusual for robbers who want to get in and out of a bank quickly and don’t want to draw attention to themselves with a disguise.
In North Carolina and Illinois, the robber was seen with a black Chevrolet Captiva sporting a silver rack on its roof.
Anyone with information about the Bucket List Bandit should contact their local police department.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.