FBI seeks 'Dynomite Bandit,' who robs banks with fake bomb - New York News

FBI seeks 'Dynomite Bandit,' who robs banks with fake bomb

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Dynomite Bandit Dynomite Bandit
Surveillance picture from golf course Surveillance picture from golf course
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -

The FBI is releasing new information about a thief targeting valley banks with what appears to be explosives -- but aren't.

The explosive devices he plants have all been fake, but agents want to catch him before he escalates and starts using real explosives to rob banks.

Surveillance video has captured the Dynomite Bandit outside of Estancia Golf Community. Cameras caught him walking around just before he tried to rob a nearby Chase Bank on January 2.

He left the simulated explosive device inside the ATM lobby in a check writing stand. But he never got a chance to make any threats to the bank -- because Estancia Golf club workers thought he looked suspicious and confronted him.

"In this particular manner in the Phoenix area this is rather unique," says FBI Special Agent Mark Hoffman.

The Dynomite Bandit has hit three banks in the valley since July. Agents say in two robberies he drilled a hole in the roof of the bank after business hours, then put a fake explosive device inside.

The next morning he waits for the bank to open and calls their employees, demanding money and threatening to blow up the bank if his demands weren't met.

"They look very realistic. They are inert, there are no explosive parts in it, even the bomb techs, the professionals they look at that they believe that it is an actual explosive device," says Agent Hoffman.

Agents say this guy operates a lot like another bank robber called the Thou Shalt Not Kill Bandit. But there's one main difference that lead agents to think it's different guys.

"There are differences in height, weight that make us think that the individuals depicted are not one in the same."

Hoffman said it's believed the suspect spent a week or more conducting extensive surveillance of each bank, locating exits and studying when employees arrive and leave.

Take a look at the FBI sketch -- the suspect is wearing an ear piece. Agents say that indicates he could be working with someone or listening to police scanners.

They also believe he may have a background in military or law enforcement.

FBI officials said they gave the man the misspelled "Dynomite" nickname because the explosive devices he used were fake. All serial robbers are given a moniker so they stand out with the public, the officials said Friday at a news conference.

Authorities are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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