BOISE -- FBI agents and the Boise Police Department are trying to get the word out on a man who they say is a serial bank robber. Police say he's struck four banks in Idaho and one in Utah in the past few months. A manhunt is underway.
Police say the man, wearing a fake beard, robbed a U.S. Bank on Wednesday. He's described as 50-60 years old with gray hair, about 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10, weighing between 145 and 180 pounds.
But investigators say that's just the latest in a crime spree for the suspect. They're linking him to a robbery at the Chase Bank on Federal Way in December in Boise. They say he's also responsible for a Washington Trust Bank robbery in Garden City in January, and one in Boise a couple weeks later, at the Wells Fargo at Five Mile and Ustick roads. Then, police say he robbed a credit union 600 miles away in Cedar City, Utah, before returning to Boise to rob that U.S. Bank on Five Mile Road and Fairview Avenue in Boise.
"It is not uncommon to have a suspect that's believed to be good for more than one bank robbery," said Lynn Hightower, spokesperson for Boise Police.
Hightower says serial bank robbers can be common. She says they typically have gambling addictions, or histories of substance abuse they're trying to fund, and may not be from the area where they're committing crimes. "Police call them travelers. They're suspects that go from one state to another, essentially, until they get caught."
Hightower says catching this guy is a high priority for Boise Police and the FBI. Even though he hasn't shown a weapon, they consider him dangerous. "The tellers and the bank employees will tell you that it's a very frightening experience for them. Even if the suspect does not show a weapon, they're implying violence, which will get them significant jail terms."
And Hightower says the stats are on their side, with more than two-thirds of bank robberies ending in arrests. "When you rob a bank, you're playing the odds and the odds are not in your favor."
Hightower pointed to a case of two men from Las Vegas who robbed two Boise banks in 2011. Those serial robbers were sentenced to more than five years, and more than 22 years in federal prison. She's hoping for a similar outcome here.
If you know anything about the robberies, or about the suspect, police want to hear from you. Call 343-COPS, or the Salt Lake City Division of the FBI at (801) 579-1400.