'Bad Hair Bandit': 18 Bank Robberies in 9 Months

A woman sporting ill-fitting wigs has hit at least 18 banks since December 2010.

August 15, 2011, 3:25 AM

Aug. 15, 2011— -- A woman known as the "bad hair bandit" for the assortment of ill-fitting wigs she wears while robbing at least 18 banks since December 2010 may have struck again, authorities say.

After a spree that had apparently been confined to Washington and Oregon, the FBI is investigating whether the same bandit robbed a bank in Montana last week.

On Thursday an unidentified woman wearing a short, dark-haired wig walked into the Bank of Butte in Butte, Mo., passed a note to the teller, and walked out with over $1,000 in cash.

Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff John Walsh told The Montana Standard that the FBI is now investigating whether the Butte robber was the infamous "bad hair bandit."

"I couldn't confirm she [the bad hair bandit] is involved, but it certainly has potential," Walsh told the newspaper.

Witnesses described the woman at the Butte robbery as a white female, 40, 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10 inches tall and with a heavy build.

According to the FBI website, the woman typically enters the bank and passes a note to a teller in which she demands cash and states that she is armed. She tends to wear a zippered hoodie, eyeglasses, a baseball cap, and some type of wig, and appears to flee by car, which the bureau describes as possibly a newer silver or gold sedan similar to a Honda Accord.

Seattle police told ABC News that they believe she may not be from the region.

"There is a strong probability she may be from out of the area which is why no one has recognized her … she needs to turn herself in," a Seattle police spokesperson said.

The "bad hair bandit" earned her nickname for the arsenal of odd wigs that she has used in her spree. She wore a curly blonde wig while robbing a bank in January and a month later sported a wavy red weave while robbing another. In July, she hid her blonde locks under a black baseball cap.

A few weeks later, she was back to what might be considered her signature look -- which is strikingly similar to the look of the woman who robbed the Bank of Butte last week -- a short brown bob with glasses.

Colorful disguises have become something of a trend among bank robbers for the past few years. In 2007, there were the "Barbie bandits" -- two young women who disguised themselves in designer sunglasses. Last year, New York City had the bouquet bandit – a man whose bouquet, neatly bundled in pink tissue paper and plastic, concealed a note that demanded $50 and $100 bills.

The "bad hair bandit's" lengthy spree follows another recent trend in bank robberies that has been dubbed the Bonnie without Clyde phenomenon -- women robbing banks. In May a skirt-clad, high-heeled woman with a handgun robbed a bank of an undisclosed amount of cash in Toledo, Ohio. Earlier in May, police in Wilmington, Del., tasered a woman who had robbed a bank.

FBI numbers show that the percentage of women committing bank heists has risen from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 7.08 percent last year. The increase is especially marked among white women, experts say.

The FBI is asking that anyone with information on the "bad hair bandit" contact a local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

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