Banditry Is Not Dead
An old word that stays busy. Some words-like forsooth, thou, and daddy-o-are a tad old-fashioned. They just don't have the up-to-the-minute glow of Obamanomics and staycation. Bandit also feels like a relic from an ancient time, an era when well-mustached men fled Smokey, preposterously-breasted women..
An old word that stays busy.Some words-like forsooth, thou, and daddy-o-are a tad old-fashioned. They just don't have the up-to-the-minute glow of Obamanomics and staycation.Bandit also feels like a relic from an ancient time, an era when well-mustached men fled Smokey, preposterously-breasted women kissed pitchers, and terms like squeegee bandit were coined. The Oxford English Dictionary's first example of the word is from Shakespeare in 1593, which feels about right. I passed up on banditry as a college major for a reason, you know? It just didn't seem like a vibrant, thriving industry in 21st century America.And yet, my tune and mind were changed and blown after seconds of newspaper searching, as recent headlines include:FBI seeks "Beret Bandit"(Sept. 7, 2008, Whittier Daily News)Police arrest suspected "Mummy Bandit"(Sept. 5, 2008, OC Register)Cops capture "Second Hand Bandit" Suspect(Sept. 4, 2008, Chicago Sun-Times)"Early Bird Bandit" Caged(Sept. 2, 2008, The Tribune, Houston)NYPD: Former detective arrested as "Bling Bandit"(Aug. 30, 2008, AP Wire, New York)It turns out that banditry-especially bank robbery, an activity that may seem Paleolithic-ish to civilians who rarely go to banks anymore to commit banking, much less robbery-is dirt-common and much written about, usually colorfully. Since bandits rarely show a photo ID when cleaning out the cash, FBI agents coin creative names for the varmints, such as The Assistant Coach Bandit and The Snap Crackle Pop Bandit. The Lopper (from Seinfeld) and The Unabomber (from reality) would be proud.In Chicago, the FBI's main nickname-maker-upper is media representative Special Agent Ross Rice, who said the FBI has no nicknaming guidelines, but he makes sure to never repeat a name, while basing the names on appearance or methods-and he only makes one up for offenders who achieve a hat trick of feloniousness: three banks. The names make it easier for perps to be discussed by agents and publicized by the media-though the bureau probably hopes to inspire articles less silly than this one.In honor of this useful word and dishonorable vocation-and with apologies to The Village People Bandit, The Waddling Bandit, The Caveman Bandit, and The I Know Where You Live Bandit-here's a closer look at seven suave scoundrels, all recently wanted or captured:The Wing-ding BanditIn June, this San Clemente man was arrested, but not because of his shindigs or hootenannies: he just liked to use the wing-dings font in his give-me-the-cash-now notes. One presumes he was more than a one-font man, since his namesake looks like this:
The Paint by Numbers BanditBits of white paint on the jacket of this Chicagoan are the source of his nickname. No perfunctory, unimaginative approach to crime is implied.The Irreconcilable Differences BanditDivorce isn't easy. Some cope with drink, drugs, or Battlestar Galactica marathons. Then there's this exquisitely named scofflaw, who robbed several California banks-and asked one clerk for help wiring some of the ill-gotten booty to his estranged wife.The Super Sloth BanditSometimes nicknaming is as simple as A plus B: this Denver desperado wore the word super on his shirt while moving with less-than gazelle-like grace and speed.The Heavy D BanditMeanwhile, this rapper-sounding reprobate from Detroit is a big fellow with a baseball cap bearing the letter D. His cohort, The Svelte I Bandit is still at large, at least in my imagination.The Weathergirl BanditIs there something about the stresses of meteorology that inevitably leads to life as a hoodlum? Not for this L.A. woman, who just enjoyed chatting about the weather while telling the tellers to cough up the coin. It's like mom said: Felonious doesn't have to mean rude.The Thong Bandits (pictured above)With enough duct tape, it is quite possible to disguise one's head-as Kentucky's Duct Tape Bandit proved-but thongs have never been renowned for their coverage. Perhaps that's why these thieving thongsters were arrested this June in Arvada, Colorado and haven't yet been lauded as criminal masterminds in the mold of Lex Luthor or Dick Cheney.So kids, if you decide to pursue banditry instead of astrophysics or podiatry, learn from your fore-bandits.Besides intimidation methods and escape routes, think about your appearance and the impression it makes. Don't mention your bunions, goiters, or marmots. Rethink that pork pie hat. Don't pick your nose while threatening the tellers.And for God's sake, take that thong off your head.Photo of one of the "Thong Bandits" from MSNBC.