Since August 2014, Broward County has been hit by a string of bank robberies. In each case, the robber concealed his face, although sometimes only partially. In each case, the bank robber is seen on surveillance footage dark-colored pants and a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt. He was given the name “Filter Bandit” because in some of the robberies, he is seen covering his face with a filter mask – the kind you might see for sale at Home Depot.
Since last summer, the following banks have been hit:
- BB&T – June 16, 2015
- SunTrust – March 31, 2015
Coral Springs, Florida
- Chase Bank – March 27, 2015
- TD Bank – March 16, 2015
- TD Bank – February 14, 2015
- TD Bank – January 7, 2015
- Chase Bank – August 9, 2014
The Real Issues
Law enforcement faces three issues when it comes to this case. First, is protecting the public. Any person who walks into seven banks demanding money with a gun is extremely dangerous and liable to murder someone. Second, is apprehending the Filter Bandit as soon as possible. He is clearly on a crime spree and locking him into custody is the name of the game.
The third issue will happen in the courtroom – identification.
While I have little doubt about this genius of a criminal’s ability (who robs banks these days??? really???), we all know he will eventually get caught. This Einstein hits banks in the same general proximity and he does it close in time to the others.
That said, the legal challenge in court will be about tying him to ALL the robberies. While he may get caught while one is in progress, for example, that doesn’t mean he’s the same guy who did the others.
There are a few ways all these cases may tie together. First, there may be a cooperating witness – someone who knows the Filter Bandit and blows him into law enforcement. The testimony of a witness who knows this guy and what he has been up to can seal the deal.
Second, this genius may actually confess once he is caught. A confession would be the best case scenario for law enforcement.
Third, there may be other evidence that the FBI is not yet sharing, such as DNA. Additionally, once he is taken into custody, law enforcement may be able to link cash found in his residence or his person to some of the robberies.
Fourth, once he is arrested, a search warrant executed on his house may turn up masks, the hoodie, the jeans, and gloves. Ultimately, if this is all the FBI gets, a jury may have to compare that evidence to the surveillance photos and decide for themselves if it is the same person.
Ultimately, this case is about apprehending a very dangerous person. Chasing bank robbers who use guns is classic law enforcement. Its kind of what the FBI does best. There is little doubt he will be caught – the questions are when and how. Tying each robbery to one person in the courtroom will ultimately hinge on evidence not yet obtained and not let made public. Remember, proving the identity of the specific person as the guy who committed these crimes is one of the most fundamental building blocks that every criminal prosecution depends on. In the absence of proof of identity, the case would have to be dropped – or at least those charges that lack such evidence.