H-CENTRAL COAST

Nov 11, 2013 7:19 PM by Kathy Kuretich

Two years later: The Geezer Bandit Investigation

In December it will be two years since the robber the FBI has dubbed the Geezer Bandit hit up a San Luis Obispo Bank. The notorious robber is wanted for 16 California bank heists, including three right here on the Central Coast, and the FBI is releasing new information exclusively to KSBY.

It was a chilly December night in San Luis Obispo. Excitement and energy filled the streets as hundreds made their way downtown for a holiday parade.

"There was a lot of things going on that would keep our officers busy," said Captain Chris Staley of the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

One block away from the parade route, employees at the Bank of America were anxious to join the festivities. The time was 5:37 p.m. when security cameras capture the moment the Geezer Bandit walked into the bank.

"I saw someone waiting in line, tried to make eye contact with them. Someone who was pretty jittery. The first thing that came to my mind was, 'Oh my gosh, this individual either has a really bad skin disease or I'm about to get robbed,'" said the teller who wants her identity protected.

Her instincts were right on. The Geezer Bandit walked up, and pulled out a day planner. Inside, a plastic bag, a gun, and this chilling note just released to KSBY by the FBI:

"Give me $50,000 or I will shoot you in the face. No alarms I have a police radio." A nearby teller heard him say, "You know what to do."

"He held the gun to my face and I just started shoveling everything I could onto the counter and into the bag," said the teller. "After that I just don't remember."

In fear for her life, she does what she's told, but hesitates giving the bandit the $20 dollar bills from her drawer, for good reason.

"I'm like, this guy knows, he knows what these 20s are. I'm not going to risk it, especially with the gun pointed at my face. The only thing I remember is the fear in my own voice asking if he wanted the 20s," said the teller.

He told her yes and she delivers, dropping the $20s into his bag, and with it a dye pack loaded with red stain and pepper spray. He only gets a few steps out the door and it explodes, sending a plume of smoke into the air. The Geezer Bandit is thrown off, but for just a moment. Covered in red dye, he scoops up as much cash as he can, and takes off.

"This is clearly to me not an older person. This was a person who was much younger, who had clear athletic ability who was able to run quite quickly from the scene," said Captain Staley.

In the chaos he leaves behind a key piece of evidence - the day planner, seen time after time in other robberies. It was processed at the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, but it produced no leads, dashing law enforcement hopes.

"This kind of case is very aggravating. We were very hopeful that we would actually be able to identify a suspect in the case. But at this point, we have not been able to," said Captain Staley.

Standing just inches from the Geezer Bandit, the teller said she's blocked out many details from the night she had a gun pointed at her face, but says there's one thing she can't forget. "I remember the hands vividly. They were almost as if they were dipped in paraffin wax, and there was no movement to the hands. It was very straight, hold the gun up, open the planner and just scoop whatever is on the counter. There was absolutely no movement," said the teller.

Another teller was able to take a good look at his eyes and noticed darker skin around the edges of the mask, giving the skin tone an unnatural look. "The skin was grey. It was totally grey."

And it turns out that mask likely helped hide the Geezer Bandit's identity after the Bank of America robbery, when the dye pack went off. "I'm absolutely shocked that he did not get caught. I'm absolutely shocked," said the teller.

But almost two years later, investigators are hopeful that one day they will make an arrest. And if that day comes, and the teller is once again face to face with the Geezer Bandit, she has a surprising message. "It sounds crazy, but (I would) thank him for not hurting me, because being in that situation is so scary," she said.

The Geezer Bandit left behind a teller in shock, law enforcement on his trail, and a nation wondering who's behind the mask, and how he got away, for the 16th time. The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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