Burqa-Wearing Bandit Baffles Detectives

N.C. authorities aren't sure whether a man or woman held up a bank Tuesday.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:40 AM

Oct. 18, 2007 — -- Authorities in North Carolina don't know whether they are looking for a man or a woman in the search for a burqa-wearing bandit who walked into a bank Tuesday and pointed a gun at a teller before exiting with a bag full of money.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance footage that captured a dark-skinned person covered by a burgundy-shaded wrap who entered the bank branch in Hiddenite, N.C., around 3:40 p.m. and flashed a semiautomatic handgun. The wrap exposed only the individual's eyes and nose, making it difficult for police to determine the person's gender.

"It doesn't simplify matters, now, does it?" Capt. Keith Warren of the Alexander County Sheriff's Office told ABC News when asked about the unidentifiable "subject" who'd pulled off the stickup.

The person handed a black plastic bag to the teller, who filled the bag with what Warren said was an undisclosed amount of money, and then exited the front door of the building and crossed a field to a waiting getaway car. The vehicle was described by witnesses as a sport-utility-vehicle-station-wagon hybrid the same color as the person's burqa.

Scott Mitchell, a clerk at a nearby supermarket, told WSOC in Charlotte that it was unusual to see someone wearing a burqa in Hiddenite, especially on such a hot day.

"It definitely struck me as off, being as warm as it was," Mitchell said. "Wearing black pants with a burqa? You just don't see that every day."

Authorities are investigating whether Tuesday's heist is connected with a recent robbery in Morganton, another North Carolina town about 50 miles away.

"Morganton had one with certain similarities," Warren said, describing surveillance footage from that crime scene that appeared to show a black female robbing the bank. "But right now, we don't know if this is related."