The man known as the "Ray Bandit" is in jail. FBI officials believe he's behind at least 17 bank robberies in seven different states since last July, several of them right here in the Quad Cities area. It's a major investigation that many agencies took part in to bring him in.
"We knew if he continued the chances were pretty good he was going to get caught," said Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington.
The man is dubbed the Ray Bandit for his tendency to don sunglasses and show up in surveillance videos from robbery after robbery. His real name is Jeremy Evans and he's from Carol Stream, Illinois. Police say his robbery spree took him from the Land of Lincoln to Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, California and Virginia.
He first popped up on the radar in the Quad Cities after he allegedly robbed three banks inside local HyVee stores last fall. The robberies included the Wells Fargo Bank in Moline on August 20th, the Valley Bank in Bettendorf on September 14th, and The American Bank and Trust in Milan on September 26th.
"Then as time went on we started hearing more and more how he was spreading out," added Chief Redington.
Evans was also hitting more places at a faster pace. FBI investigators say the best thing that helped this case was communication between agencies. State and local law enforcement traded emails, pictures and tips, even used facial recognition software and license plate scans.
"We would give them any information we had our any leads we had. They'd put it all together to see if they could determine who it was before he committed another bank robbery," said Redington.
Investigators also took advantage of social media as something more and more agencies are seeing as a tool. "We can get calls here on something that's taken place and within minutes people around the country will be calling because they see it."
In all the Ray Bandit made off with about $75,000 before he was arrested soon after another bank robbery in Elgin, Illinois. There could be more though, as agents say they're far from done with this investigation.
"We were hoping he wouldn't progress to being violent. I'm glad no one got hurt." said Chief Redington.