“Black Hat Bandits” Leave Footprints in Snow in Virginia

Two men suspected of robbing eight banks in 2015

Two bank robbers known as the "Black Hat Bandits" for their disguises are believed to have struck again in Falls Church, Virginia.

A black man and a white man both dressed in black, carrying guns and wearing ski masks entered the Wells Fargo branch in the 1000 block of W. Broad Street about 12:40 p.m. Monday and ordered everyone to get on the floor, pushing down those who weren’t moving fast enough. They quickly got in and out of the bank, escaping in a silver car behind the bank. It's unclear if they had a getaway driver, News4's Pat Collins reported.

However, they may have left valuable clues behind in the snow. Police borrowed boxes used to ship Frito-Lay chips from a nearby restaurant to cover footprints in the snow and ice until Crime Scene Investigation could reach the scene to take pictures and make molds, Collins reported.

The FBI is investigating seven similar bank robberies in Virginia and Maryland this year. During each robbery, a black man and a white man carried handguns, disguised their faces with fake beards or ski masks, and wore black hats, sunglasses and winter coats.

The robbers are considered armed and dangerous and have become more brazen at each bank robbery, the FBI said. They have threatened bank tellers and customers and attempted to access bank vaults by jumping teller counters.

Authorities said the "Black Hat Bandits" are responsible for robberies at these banks:

  • Jan. 2, 2015: Bank of America in McLean, Va.
  • Jan. 16, 2015: BB&T in Fairfax, Va.
  • Jan. 20, 2015: Bank of America in Vienna, Va.
  • Jan. 30, 2015: Essex Bank in Arnold, Md.
  • Feb. 5, 2015: SunTrust Bank in Waldorf, Md.
  • Feb. 18, 2015: BB&T in Vienna, Va.
  • Feb. 18, 2015: Wells Fargo in Sterling, Va.
  • March 2, 2015: Wells Fargo, Falls Church, Va.

The men are believed to be in their early 40s and between 5-feet-7-inches and 5-feet-9-inches tall. FBI officials believe as many as three men may be involved, and they're being described as possible "career criminals."

The FBI is offering up to $30,000 for information leading to finding and convicting the robbers. Law enforcement advises customers and bank employees to do as they are told during a robbery and not take action against robbers.

The Washington and Baltimore Field Offices are asking anyone with information to call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or 410-265-8080, or submit a tip online.

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