This week, the so-called “Leprechaun Bandit,” 27-year-old Richard Earl Kemp of Fort Worth, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of bank robbery. He faces up to 40 years in prison, where he’s sure to get plenty of ridicule from bank robbers who thought ahead and ended up with cool nicknames instead of one that invokes the little green guy on the Lucky Charms box.
Since Machine-gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson, bank robbers have sported creative nicknames that add to their aura.
In a season that has seen a huge boom in bank robberies—and an armored car heist this week in East Dallas that may have netted the perpetrators almost $1 million — nicknames, bestowed by FBI agents to get media attention, are needed to keep track of them all.
"There's been pockets; there's certain cities like Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and Boston," FBI Assistant Director Kenneth Kaiser recently told MSNBC. The FBI in Dallas has called the spike in North Texas robberies “astronomical.”
Kemp admitted he was the robber who entered two banks in Fort Worth in April and June 2007. He’s also suspected in numerous other bank robberies using the same method. Kemp would enter the bank and slip the cashier a demand note. One said, “I need 100’s, 50’s, 20’s, and 10’s. No bottom bills, marked bills or dye packs. Co-operate [sic] and no one gets hurt.”
So far so good. But Kemp had a penchant for wearing a cap adorned with a shamrock and leprechaun. I bet there aren’t too many 27-year-old Texas men out there with one of those in his closet. It invokes a wee fellow searching for a pot of gold.
What’s needed here is some robbers with forethought: Got gun. Check. Got note. Check. Got getaway car. Check. Got distinguishing characteristic that will earn a macho sobriquet. Hmmmm. Better hide that tattoo that says “Mother” or you’ll end up with a nickname like “Mamma’s Boy.”
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It helps if you have a schtick, not just a hat or facial flaw, like the Band-Aid Bandit, who used one to cover a mole.
California’s Paparazzi Bandit takes pictures of bank tellers. The Hallmark Bandit is friendly and asks tellers about their Mother’s Day.
Buzzle.com points out that the Seattle FBI office has a reputation for generating great robber nicknames. The “Can You Hear Me Now Bandit” kept talking on his cell. The Grumpy Bandit complained after he got caught that he was a robber but was basically a cheerful fellow. In the last year, we’ve had “Panama Jack” (Panama hat-wearer), “Hard-hat Bandit,” the “Clown Bandit” for his red wig and red nose, and the Harry Carey Bandit, who dresses like the sportscaster.
There’s the Soccer Mom Bandit, Abilene’s 91-year-old Grandpa Bandit and my own favorite, Cowboy Bob. A cool customer sporting a 10-gallon hat, mustache and beard, Cowboy Bob robbed a series of banks in the early ‘90s, and was finally unmasked as -- and turned out to be -- 48-year-old Peggy Jo Tallas. — Glenna Whitley