The FBI Is Looking for the Regular Joe Bandit, Needs to Get More Creative with Nicknames

He's held up five North Texas banks in six months. Each time, he wears a plain ball cap and glasses or sunglasses and calmly hands over a note and demands cash. His preference is for bank branches tucked inside grocery stores and Walmarts, always in the suburbs. He's shown a weapon at least once and is considered armed and dangerous. He's the "Regular Joe Bandit."

Seriously. This is what the local FBI's bandit-naming division has been reduced to, grasping at cliches that illuminate nothing about the robber's methods or appearance. The "Loan Ranger Bandit," so given for the man's Texas Rangers cap and the fact that he robs institutions that lend money, at least suggested a modicum of effort on the FBI's part. And the "Mesh Mask Bandit" at least conveyed the idea that the guy robbed banks wearing a mesh mask.

But "Regular Joe"? It's like they've given up.

It doesn't have to be this way. The Los Angeles division of the FBI has a knack for decent nicknames, if this Los Angeles Daily News piece is any indication: the Chevy Chase Bandit's comical slip reminded agents of Saturday Night Live; the Miss Piggy Bandit was short, fat, and female; the Michael Jackson Bandit always wore a glove on one hand.

As the FBI explains in "Name That Bank Robber: Catchy Monikers Help Nab Culprits," a good nickname serves as "a hook for media attention to help solve robberies and a tool to help investigators track serial suspects." But bad, not-at-all catchy nicknames seem to be just fine with the agency, given that their prime example is the "Ponytail Bandit."

Come on, Dallas FBI. Step up your bank robber-naming game. Our pageviews, and our interest in financial crimes, depend on it.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson

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