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Meet the Colorado bank robber dubbed the ‘Good Grammar Bandit’

Colorado's so-called Good Grammar Bandit. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Colorado’s so-called Good Grammar Bandit. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Today, we bring you the tale of the bank robber dubbed “the Good Grammar Bandit,” because that kind of name begs for media attention (and this is intentional, but more on that in a moment).

The name is based on the notes the robber has handed to tellers during four bank robberies in the Denver area over the last week, according to the FBI.

“Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure — everything is really done well,” Dave Joly, a spokesman for the FBI’s Denver office, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

While that might seem like a strange thing to highlight, Joly says these particular notes are actually pretty unusual.

“Some of our victim tellers in the past, someone will come up to the counter and pass them a note and the teller has to look at them and say, ‘I can’t read this,’ ” he said.

While this particular robber’s notes are typed up and printed out, many such notes tend to be handwritten, Joly said. “And some of them are just awful,” he said, citing poor penmanship, spelling and grammar as some of the problems.

That’s not just the case in Denver, either. A man in Washington, D.C., allegedly tried to rob two banks last year using a note filled with so many misspellings that one teller didn’t realize the man was trying to rob them. An alleged bank robber in Brooklyn used a note with the same misspellings in multiple recent bank robberies, according to authorities. A decade ago, an alleged bank robber in Florida was also caught by police after misspelling the same word on multiple bank robbery notes.

Joly said officials weren’t entirely sure why these notes come in with bad penmanship or spelling. “I don’t know if it’s lack of education or if they’re looking for drug money and are strung out at the time,” he said. “We don’t really have a substantial answer.” But he said they do know that the people arrested for bank robberies are typically career criminals who keep robbing banks until they are caught.

Still, that’s not the entire reason to give Denver area bank robbers titles like the “Good Grammar Bandit,” “the Shaggy Bandit” (given that name because that alleged robber looked like Shaggy from “Scooby Doo”) or “the O2 Bandit” (who carried a portable oxygen tank during bank robberies).

“The names we select are primarily for the media,” Joly said. “We want you guys to have an interest, and we want the anchors on the 5 o’clock news to go back and forth and joke around about the name.”

That’s because with catchy names comes media attention, and with media attention comes tips from the public. The authorities can’t necessarily identify somebody wearing a hat and glasses, like the alleged Good Grammar Bandit, but if enough outlets run his photos, a friend or neighbor might recognize him, Joly said.

The FBI is investigating the robberies along with local law enforcement agencies in the four jurisdictions where the robberies occurred. If you’re in the Denver area, head here for more.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.



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