People have been debating D.B. Cooper ever since his Thanksgiving 1971 leap into history and out of a commercial flight from Portland to Seattle with a whole bunch of money.
The same, on a smaller scale, appears to be happening with North County’s own Geezer Bandit, so-called. He hit Vista — twice — Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla — twice — Poway and 10 other banks from Santee to San Luis Obispo starting in August 2009 before abruptly stopping in December 2011.
It’s been several years now and nary a trace of the Geezer Bandit whom some thought may have been a younger man with elaborate disguise although the FBI has said he indeed was an old(er) geezer in his 70s.
The Geezer Bandit has achieved a following of sorts with a $20,000 FBI reward for information leading to a capture continuing to dangle in the cyber-breeze.
Geezer has a Facebook page with 3,900 followers at https://www.facebook.com/theGeezerBandit/. “Geezer Bandit for President” T-shirts among a slew of Geezer Bandit merchandise, including coffee mugs, caps, ties and a Geezer Bandit tote bag, just $24.70 can be found at http://www.zazzle.com/geezerbandit.
Geezer B. even has a country-western theme song, “Nothing to Lose.”
Is the Geezer Bandit alive or dead? Was he an old guy or a younger person in deep disguise? How much money did he get? Where’s the money? A lot of questions hang in the air with no answer in sight.
Geezer Bandit went out with a bang of sorts at his last gasp, heist No. 16, exiting stage right with several uncharacteristic errors. Following 15 seemingly textbook perfect attempts, almost unheard of in the often brief bank robber shelf life, he left some telling clues at the Dec. 2, 2011 final heist at a San Luis Obispo bank.
The last heist featured some upscale touches, perhaps a result of his ill-gotten gains. His getaway car was identified for the first time as a white 5-series BMW sedan. He was sloppier than usual. After executing his go-to move of pulling a demand note from a planning book, he dropped his demand note on the ground and left it there, again a Geezer first.
For the only time in 16 robberies, a dye pack affixed to the loot exploded, rendering the money useless. The Geezer left behind the red-stained cash. He was in a hurry, too, when typically he merely sauntered off into the darkness. Witnesses said he ran away with considerably more vigor than one would expect in a septuagenerian man. Or maybe it simply was a case of geriatric adrenaline.
“I sure hope it is the break we’re looking for in the case, and I’m hopeful that whatever evidence we were able to recover will lead to his identification,” San Luis Obispo Police Department Capt. Chris Staley said.
Spoiler alert: Nope.
Characteristics of the Bandit
The long trail that began on Aug. 28, 2009 at the US Bank branch in Santee came to an end, but the perpetrator’s identity continues to be a noggin-knocking mystery of the Cooper kind.
The Bandit wasn’t a particularly pleasant fellow, bank robbers don’t need to win congeniality contests. During a January 2010 Point Loma holdup, “He came in, requested money, passed a note and said, ‘If you don’t, I will murder you and everyone else in the bank,'” the teller said.
He appeared to be in his 70s as he robbed five banks between August to November 2009. The FBI described him as a white male, approximately 6-feet tall, 190 pounds, average build. He typically wore a navy colored blazer, navy or black colored baseball cap, and dark colored clothing. He tended to wear layers of clothing. He packed a revolver pistol, and was believed to be dangerous although he never used the weapon.
During one robbery, Geezer B. came fully armed with an oxygen cylinder, and seemed to employ connecting tubes for breathing. Initially, $15,000 was offered as a reward. That number went to $20,000 the next year, offered by the FBI for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Geezer Bandit. The offer stands today.
The Geezer was nothing if not prolific through his first year of activity. He hit San Diego National Bank at La Jolla on Sept. 12, 2009; another US Bank branch at San Diego on Oct. 9, 2009; Bank of America at Rancho Santa Fe on Nov. 16, 2009 and another San Diego National Bank branch at San Diego on Jan. 27, 2010.
Taking the rest of the winter off, the Geezer was back in action on April 20, 2010 at California Bank & Trust, Vista, followed 10 days later at a US Bank branch at Vista. May 11, 2010 found him back to Santee for a Bank of America branch, then June 7 at a Poway branch of US Bank and June 25 at a Temecula Bank of America branch.
The FBI issued a June 2010 public call for assistance, just after the Poway robbery, saying, “The tenth bank robbery in the ‘Geezer Bandit’ series is believed to have occurred today with the robbery of the US Bank, 14837 Pomerado Road, Poway, California, inside of the Albertsons Grocery Store.
“At approximately 2:53 p.m. today, the unknown male dubbed the ‘Geezer Bandit’ used a demand note to rob one of the tellers at the US Bank, located inside of the Albertsons Grocery Store, 14837 Pomerado Road, Poway, California,” FBI agents said.
“In addition to presenting the demand note, he pointed a small caliber revolver at the teller and threatened to use the weapon against her. After receiving a sum of money he walked out of the north exit door of the grocery store.”
Resting through summer and early fall, Geezer went north to a Bakersfield Bank of America branch on Nov. 12, 2010, another Bank of America branch on Jan, 28, 2011 at Goleta and Heritage Oaks Bank on May 27, 2011 at Morro Bay.
Another long break during which the first where-is-the-Geezer-Bandit questions starting percolating, ended with a Sept. 30, 2011 robbery of Wells Fargo at La Jolla and the final Dec. 2, 2011 San Luis Obispo hit.
Whatever happened to…
The trail went dark after that. FBI profilers speculated he may have changed his disguise completely, saying they were looking closely at the body movements of other bank robbers to see if they match that of the Geezer.
FBI Special Agent James Stinnett in August 2012 said it also was possible the Geezer Bandit may have just quit robbing banks, although in most cases bank robbers continue until they’re caught.
Aside from the official FBI word that he was a man in his 70s, numerous theories have been popular through the years.
Some law enforcement officials speculated Geezer B. was a master of disguise, using a movie special-effects mask and other wardrobing subterfuges. FBI agents even questioned special effects mask makers to no avail.
John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted,” which aired a Geezer Bandit episode, ascribed to the belief that Geezer was a young person in disguise. He based this belief on the surveillance footage of the San Luis Obispo finale showing the Bandit running abnormally fast for an elderly person after the dye pack exploded in his ill-gotten money bag.
So it goes. Do you know anything more about the Geezer Bandit? Try FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth at (858) 320-8302 or the FBI general number at (858) 565-1255. While it’s not Powerball, the FBI still has a $20,000 reward up for grabs for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the “Geezer Bandit.”
“Geezer Bandit” short film entered at the Fort Wayne Film Festival.
The Geezer Bandit, according to the FBI, is believed to be responsible for robbing the following banks:
|August 28, 2009, Friday, 11:47 a.m.||US Bank||9643 Mission Gorge Road, Santee, CA|
|September 12, 2009, Saturday, 10:10 a.m.||San Diego National Bank||7877 Ivanhoe, La Jolla, CA|
|October 9, 2009, Friday, 2:07 p.m.||US Bank||4627 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego, CA|
|October 26, 2009, Monday, 10:04 a.m.||Bank of America||17008 Avenida de Acacias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA|
|November 16, 2009, Monday, 5:54 p.m.||Bank of America||7680 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA|
|January 27, 2010, Wednesday, 5:50 p.m.||San Diego National Bank||1075 Rosecrans, San Diego, CA|
|April 20, 2010, Tuesday, 9:10 a.m.||California Bank and Trust||140 Escondido Avenue, Vista, CA|
|April 30, 2010, Friday, 2:14 p.m.||US Bank||1301 East Vista Way, Vista, CA|
|May 11, 2010, Tuesday, 9:45 a.m.||Bank of America||9711 Mission Gorge Road, Santee, CA|
|June 7, 2010, Monday, 2:55 p.m.||US Bank||14837 Pomerado Road, Poway, CA|
|June 24, 2010, Thursday, 1:15 p.m.||Bank of America||31934 Highway 79 South, Temecula, CA|
|November 12, 2010, Friday, 6:00 p.m.||Bank of America||4480 Coffee Road, Bakersfield, CA|
|January 28, 2011, Friday, 5:55 p.m.||Bank of America||5892 Calle Real, Goleta, CA|
|May 27, 2011, Friday, 2:17 p.m.||Heritage Oaks Bank||310 Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, CA|
|September 30, 2011, Friday, 6:34 p.m.||Wells Fargo Bank||7544 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA|
Maybe the Geezer Bandit doesn’t like his current level of Social Security payments. I don’t know. As far as skyjacker ‘DB Cooper,’ I would say he was most likely Kenneth Peter Christiansen, former Army paratrooper in WW2…and an employee of the actual airline that was hijacked on 11/24/1971. YouTube video on him was filmed in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State in June 2015: