Israeli police on Monday appealed to the public to help apprehend a man they described as “the polite bank robber,” who they said had struck at least eight times in central Israel in recent weeks.
The man, who has been filmed on security cameras entering several banks, makes no attempt to disguise himself. He is generally clad in a baseball cap, jacket and T-shirt, and is both unarmed and apologetic, the police said.
Believed to be a native Israeli, fair-skinned and apparently in his 30s, he approaches the tellers and asks politely that they hand over money from their tills.
“He asks them to help,” according Channel 2 reported, “and generally apologizes for what he is doing. He explains to his victims that he has fallen on hard times financially.”
Evidently, the approach is effective. Police believe he has obtained some NIS 100,000 — a little over $25,000 — in his series of civilized thefts to date.
The police recently set up a special team to track him down, without success. Hence Monday’s appeal to the public for assistance.
It is not entirely clear what precise crime they would charge him with, however, if and when he is apprehended. The police did not indicate that he used threats or menaces to obtain the cash.
The polite thief is not the first bank robber to capture the Israeli public’s imagination for eluding capture. In 1990, the so-called “motorcycle bandit,” Ronnie Leibowitz, robbed 21 banks, mainly in the Tel Aviv area, before he was caught.
He admitted to all the crimes and repaid the money, and ultimately served eight years in jail. Unlike his polite counterpart, however, he was armed.