Public's Help Sought in Nabbing the 'Hazmat Bandit'

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The Orange County Bank Robbery Task Force is seeking the public's help in identifying an armed bank robber authorities have dubbed the "Hazmat Bandit" due to his attire: a white painter's jumpsuit, a white hat, boots and sunglasses.

The unidentified man--described as white, in his fifties, with long blonde hair which may have been a wig, and with a height of approximately 6 feet to 6-feet-2--has pulled off two heists, according to the FBI.

He entered the Laguna Niguel Wachovia branch on March 17 and declared, "I'm here to do some painting," then proceeded to shout demands to victim employees and customers including, "This is a holdup . . . you have 30 seconds . . . hands up . . . get on the ground."  Witnesses told investigators the bandit brandished a nickel-plated revolver and carried a dark blue cloth bag.

During his second robbery--April 10 at Lake Forest's Wachovia bank--it was pretty much the same routine and description, although witnesses now said he had a mustache. He was described as saying, "This is a robbery, hands up, lay down on ground."  Prior to exiting the bank, the Hazmat Bandit said, "Have a nice day," which makes one wonder if he was previously a teller.

Wachovia is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for original information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of The Hazmat Bandit.

Besides the task force and the FBI, the robberies are being investigated by Orange County Sheriff's detectives. They have released surveillance photographs, including the one included with this post, in hopes they may jog someone's memory about the man in disguise. Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI's 24 hour desk at (888) 226-8443. Visit here for more information on these and other Southern California robberies.


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