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Mysterious ‘Band-Aid Bandit’ eludes capture

Florida police and the FBI are looking for leads related to the mysterious "Band-Aid Bandit," who has robbed 37 banks since Dec. 2000. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

Another bank robbery on Florida's west coast, and on the security video, law enforcement sees a very familiar face. Police say in the last four-and-a-half years, the man has robbed 37 Florida banks, and tried to rob two more.

He's been photographed from every angle. But, detectives still have no idea who they are chasing, or how he got away with more than $500,000.

"He just kind of floats in and floats out and, you know, here we are wondering who he is," says Tony Paladini with the Hillsborough Co. sheriff's office.

He's been dubbed "The Band-Aid Bandit," because of the bandage on his left cheek.

"We've seen big pieces of gauze on his face," says Ellison Smith with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). "We've seen circles, tape."

Police theorize he might be hiding a mole or scar, or that he is just trying to divert attention. They say he's Hispanic, with discolored skin on his hands and arms, a prominent beer gut, and usually a bad wig and fake moustache.

"It's very frustrating, just frustrating, because we can't catch this guy," says Ray Velboom, also with the FDLE.

The robberies have occurred from Gainesville to Sarasota, but most were in the Greater Tampa area.

There have been no credible leads, even though police put up billboards, issued thousands of fliers, and flooded the Internet and news media. Because of that, officials suspect the Bandit lives outside the region.

So far, no shots have been fired, and no one has been injured in any of the robberies. But, police fear that could change. The Band-Aid Bandit carries a silver revolver, and often has an armed accomplice. Each robbery becomes more threatening. 

"There's two guys in there brandishing guns," says Velboom. "There's a picture of him just actually fanning the gun across the bank. That's the thing, we've seen that violence."

But the police are frustrated and hoping to catch a phantom robber before someone gets hurt.