FALLS CHURCH, Va. — There’s a $30,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of a bank robbery trio known as the Black Hat Bandits, suspected in a two-month string of robberies across Maryland and Virginia, the latest coming Monday.
No, they’re not hackers. Rather, they simply wear black hats during their heists, and the feds say they’re becoming increasingly dangerous.
“In an escalation of violence, the Black Hat Bandits have become more brazen at each robbery having threatened bank customers and tellers, most recently holding a gun to a customer’s head, and jumping teller counters in attempts to gain access to bank vaults,” according to an FBI wanted poster.
An FBI statement last month provided more details: “During each robbery the black hat bandits have been described as carrying handguns and wearing winter coats, sunglasses, black hats (either a winter knit cap or wide brimmed hat) and facial disguises such as ski masks or a fake beard.”
The bandits pulled off their most recent robbery Monday during lunch hour at a Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church, Virginia. It marked the crew’s eighth bank robbery this year.
“We now confirm that this is a three-person crew: two who take over the bank and one who waits in the car,” an FBI spokesperson told CNN affiliate WJLA.
No one was injured in the holdup, which unfolded after two black-clad men — one African-American, one white — entered the bank with firearms, robbed the bank and fled in a vehicle waiting outside, police told the station.
Hours after the robbery, investigators were at the scene gathering evidence, which included a footprint in the snow, WJLA reported.
It was the second Falls Church bank robbery in recent weeks, but the February 21 robbery of an Apple Federal Credit Union two blocks from Monday’s crime scene was the work of a lone gunman, not the Black Hat Bandits, authorities told WJLA.
The robbers who committed Monday’s robbery are described as in their 40s and between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, according to the FBI.
Other banks which the Black Hat Bandits are suspected of robbing include a Bank of America in McLean, Virginia, on January 2; a BB&T in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 16; a Bank of America in Vienna, Virginia, on January 20; an Essex Bank in Arnold, Maryland, on January 30; and a SunTrust Bank in Waldorf, Maryland, on February 5.
In one of their more audacious undertakings, the robbers hit two banks on February 18. First, they hit a BB&T in Vienna, Virginia, before traveling to a Wells Fargo in Sterling, Virginia, 40 minutes later.
“One of the suspects put his gun to a customer’s head while demanding everyone to ‘get down,’ and demanded money from a victim teller. In both robberies the subjects fled the banks with an undisclosed amount of money,” the FBI said in a statement.
The FBI is asking anyone with information on the bank robberies in Virginia to call 202-278-2000. Those with information on the Maryland heists should call 410-265-8080. The public can also submit anonymous tips at https://tips.fbi.gov.