One of the most notorious bank robbers in recent Chicago history is about to "cash in" on all of his crimes if time runs out for the FBI.
While he's no john Dillinger, these days the Wheaton Bandit may as well be considered one of the most wanted criminals in the Chicago area. FBI agents believe he's responsible for stealing over $150.000 after robbing sixteen banks in four years. Dillinger knocked over 16 banks in just 18 months. Unlike the original "Public Enemy Number One," if the Wheaton Bandit's luck holds out, he may get away with all the money and never have to pay the piper. That's because the statue of limitations on a bank robbery charge is five years. The FBI's Ross Rice explains, "Every time the five year anniversary of one of the robberies he's suspected of rolls around, it's not possible to charge him with bank robbery."
That's a big problem for the Chicago FBI. The last time the Wheaton Bandit stuck up a bank was nearly five years ago, on December 7, 2006 in Glen Ellyn. So if they can't identify and arrest this serial bank robber in the next six months, he's scot free.
Even though the Wheaton Bandit has been quiet for the last few years, the feds still have a shot at him. There are three bank robberies from November- December of 2006 that the Wheaton Bandit could be charged with committing. Rice says, "We're hoping that one of your viewers will recognize the sketch, recognize the photograph, have some info that will help us identify this individual and solve this string of robberies."
So far the best lead in this case is a photo of an unidentified man security cameras at another Glen Ellyn bank snapped in late December 2004. Witnesses say the man simply walked in the bank, looked around and left. Agents believe it may have been the Wheaton Bandit casing the place. Two weeks later, the Wheaton Bandit hit the same bank on the same day of the week and at the same time. Agents don't think it's a coincidence; they say there is a strong possibility this unidentified man may be the Wheaton Bandit.
The FBI has more than just the photo. Rice says investigators were able to put together a very good composite sketch of the bandit after a passerby saw him without a mask as he was preparing to rob a Winfield bank in November 2006.
If you don't recognize his face from the sketch, investigators are hoping you might recognize his clothes. According to the witness who helped make the sketch, the person spotted outside the Winfield bank was wearing a green fleece pullover with a unique logo on the back.
That's not all agents know about the Wheaton Bandit. They believe: he's worn body armor during some of the later robberies, he is left handed as bank security camera photos show him holding the weapon in his left hand, and he does not kept his finger on the trigger.
When you put all this together, agents believe there are enough distinguishing traits about this bandit, that if someone knows who the Wheaton Bandit is, they will recognize him
Investigators have a few theories as to why the Wheaton Bandit has been quiet for the last few years. One main theory is he got spooked when the sketch was highly publicized in the media. Another one is the Wheaton Bandit is an active member of the military and is currently serving over seas. Based on how he holds a gun and that he wears body armor, investigators believe this bandit has either law enforcement or military training
All theories aside, what agents really need right now is some good, solid information from the public to help them track down the Wheaton Bandit because the crime clock is ticking.
"Do the right thing. Come forward, give us a tip and we'll do the investigation from there."
Here is a detailed description of what agents say the Wheaton Bandit looks like. He is described as a white male, 25 to 35 years old, 5' 10" - 6' 2", and has a thin to medium build. He is considered armed and dangerous.
The FBI and some of the banks are officering a combined reward of $50,000 for any information leading to the arrest of the Wheaton bandit.
If you have any information about this case, call the Chicago FBI bureau at (312) 421
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