Since the days of “Pretty Boy” Floyd and “Baby Face” Nelson, bank robbers and thugs pursued by federal agents have had catchy nicknames. The Los Angeles Times says some have made the crooks famous or the butt of jokes. “It gets a lot of attention, and that’s what we want,” said Daniel Bodony, an FBI agent who comes up with catchy names that help lead to catching bank robbers. “I don’t do it to give them notoriety,” he said. “I do it as an investigative tool.”
He called one the “Butterfingers Bandit” because the robber dropped his loot on two occasions and a demand note during a third robbery before his arrest in 2002. Bodony dubbed one man the “Cockadoodledoo Bandit” because he showed up early in the day, usually before the bankers had arrived for work.
When agents noticed that one robber wore a single glove, he was called the Michael Jackson bandit. FBI attorneys urged Bodony to find another name after the singer’s legal difficulties; he said that calling the suspect “The One-Glove Bandit” didn’t have quite the same resonance.
“We’re careful about it,” said Laura Bosley, FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles. “But we also know that popular names are what people remember most.”
The “Jay Leno Bandit” was renamed amid worry that it might offend the late-night TV host. So the bad guy with a distinctive chin became the “Groundhog Bandit” after disappearing for months before finally resurfacing on Groundhog Day in 1995. Police recently arrested three female bandits called “Charlie’s Angels” for toting guns in their purses during holdups. The “Starsky and Hutch Bandits” earned their names by acting in a manner familiar to viewers of that late-1970s television series: diving through an open car window, then burning rubber to escape. A female bandit earned the provocative name “The Naughty Girl Bandit” this year after a series of Southland bank robberies in which she wore a T-shirt that said “naughty.”