The hunt for the the so-called “Geezer Bandit” who California police say is responsible for more than 16 bank robberies in the state over the past two years has taken a new, more hidden path.
Surveillance photos suggest the Geezer Bandit is an older, white male in his late 60s or 70s. But police, working with the FBI, are now operating on the theory the bandit may actually be a younger man, or a woman, disguised in a mask.
Officers with the Morro Bay Police Department are now targeting a Southern California-based company called SPFX Masks that produces the masks the bandit is believed to have used during his robberies throughout Southern and Central California.
Morro Bay officers filed search warrants in San Luis Obispo Superior Court this week to gain access to SPFX’s purchasing records because, they say, a mask produced by the company called “THE ELDER” is a close match to the mask bank tellers have described the Geezer as wearing during robberies.
“I compared, side by side, the photo of ‘THE ELDER’ and …. the suspect from …. Morro Bay. ‘THE ELDER’ mask and the robbery suspect’s face looked almost identical,” the warrant reads.
SPFX is the same company that produced the mask the Freddy Kruger character made famous in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies.
The search warrant issued to the company comes on the heels of a big break in the case earlier this month.
On Dec. 2, the Geezer Bandit hit a Bank of America in San Luis Obispo, Calif., holding a gun and a note demanding cash.
The teller gave him the money, along with a hidden dye pack that exploded as he left, staining the money red and leaving a trail for police.
“There’s quite a bit of money in the parking lot and it’s spread out across several different parking stalls, so we’re not sure if he got away with any money or not,” Lt. Bill Proll of the San Luis Obispo Police Department said at the time.
The alleged thief also dropped what appears to be a small address book, which could be a huge clue for police.
“They might get lucky and get fingerprints off what he dropped,” said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News contributor. “Each time you have a robbery, you sometimes get one more nugget or piece of information that will take you closer to the bad guy.”
Witnesses who have seen the Geezer Bandit in person have said there is something off about his “plastic” face and wrinkle-free hands.
The warrant request asks for a list of people who purchased the mask from the SPFX’s two distributors between January 2009 and May 2011. The Geezer Bandit’s first robbery is believed to have dated back to August 2009.
The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for tips leading to the bandit’s arrest.
ABC News’ Alyssa Newcomb contributed to this report.