Image: Security cameras capture 'Geezer Bandit' bank robberies
TODAY
Security cameras capture some of the "Geezer Bandit's" bank robberies.
NBC News and news services
updated 12/23/2011 6:50:45 PM ET 2011-12-23T23:50:45

Authorities say a California bank robber branded "The Geezer Bandit" because he appeared to be old might actually be wearing a mask, and the mask may have been damaged after a recent robbery.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Friday the man also was seen running away from his latest heist this month.

The disclosures raise questions about the age of the man suspected of holding up 16 California banks from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

Investigators have been stymied for more than two years by the bandit, previously believed to be in his 60s or 70s.

The most recent robbery was Dec. 2 in San Luis Obispo when a security dye-pack exploded as the man left the bank and sprinted away.

The FBI this week released new surveillance video of the dye-pack explosion, NBC Los Angeles reported.

More coverage of Geezer Bandit on NBCLosAngeles.com

The video shows a man walking next to a truck after robbing a Bank of America in San Luis Obispo and becoming surrounded with what looks like red smoke, according to the FBI.

The smoke is actually red dye that came from a dye pack, which is a security device that's implanted in a stack of money to help authorities catch bank robbers by staining them and stunning them.

"You see him drop to the ground, trying to gather some of his belongings and also the money that he stole," said FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth.

What happened next may be further proof that The Geezer Bandit is much younger than he appears, Foxworth said. In the video, you can see the man sprinting across the parking lot.

"When you look at that, it would lead you to believe that he doesn't appear to be someone in his 60s or 70s running at that fast of a pace," said Foxworth.

For the past two years since the Geezer robberies began, the FBI has been in contact with companies that make life-like elderly masks, hoping a sales receipt could lead to the Geezer Bandit, Foxworth said.

The mask may have been damaged by the explosion, according to the FBI.

"If it's not made of the right material then (the dye) could permanently stain it, in such a way that it's very noticeable," said Foxworth.

In images taken from inside the bank, the Geezer Bandit is seen carrying his signature day planner against his body, where he hides his gun.

The Geezer left behind the day planner after the dye-pack explosion, according to the FBI. It is now undergoing a forensic examination.

The Geezer Bandit has robbed 16 banks, including 11 in San Diego County. There is a $20,000 reward leading to his capture and conviction.

This article includes reporting from NBCLosAngeles.com and The Associated Press.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Video: FBI on hunt for notorious ‘geezer bandit’

  1. Closed captioning of: FBI on hunt for notorious ‘geezer bandit’

    >>> now to california where a prolific bank robber known as the geiser bandit has struck again and the fbi hunt is on. miguel almaguer has details on this story. hey, miguel , good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. the geiser bandit walked right out of the front door of this bank on friday. he appears to be elderly, a suspect who's continued to elude police but only after he was caught on tape. he looks more grandpa than gangster, but make no mistake, police say the geiser bandit is armed and dangerous .

    >> i think it's time the bank was just over a minute total.

    >> reporter: friday, closing time at this san luis obispo bank of america . he hands the teller a note, demands cash, pulls a revolver and walks out with a bag full of money.

    >> the teller put a dye pack in the bag that explodes and puts a red dye or ink all over that money that's been taken.

    >> reporter: outside the bank a trail of dye-soaked cash but no sign of the elusive elderly thief.

    >> the bank robberies started in august of 2009 .

    >> reporter: it seems the suspect is a bit of an old pro. in two years, the geiser bandit has now held up 16 california banks.

    >> for anyone to think that this guy might be someone that's elderly and just harmless in any way, that's not the case.

    >> reporter: but witnesses say something may be off with the 6', 200-pound senior who could be as old as 70. the geiser's face is sometimes described as plasticy, which means he could be wearing a mask.

    >> back in my game, we didn't have television, we had radio.

    >> reporter: this looks like the geiser bandit but it's actually rusty. his high-end masks are made for hollywood. they have been used in the movies before, but they have also been used in real-life heists. in ohio, police were looking for a black man but their bank robbery suspect turned out to be a white man wearing a dark mask. back in california , a manhunt for the geiser bandit is under way.

    >> whether he's wearing a mask or not, that's something that's come up as part of the investigation. we've had victim tellers and other witnesses describe him as wearing a mask.

    >> reporter: today it's unclear how old the geiser bandit may be but one thing seems certain, this grandpa doesn't seem anywhere near retirement from his life of crime. the geiser ban dilt says the fbi has gotten away with tens of thousands of dollars. they are offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

    >> miguel , thanks.

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