Bandit dressed as Muslim woman hits Phila. bank

Posted: February 04, 2011

A cross-dressing bandit armed with a handgun attempted to rob a Mount Airy bank branch Tuesday, but fled when the bank's manager couldn't open the vault.

Dressed in Muslim women's garb - long black dress, a white jacket, and a hijab covering his head and face - the bandit brandished a dark-colored handgun when he strode into the Sovereign Bank branch at 6740 Germantown Ave., said FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver.

The bandit demanded access to the vault, but the manager told him it was locked tight. Without asking for cash from tellers, the bandit turned and left.

Investigators say they believe the same bandit robbed the same bank branch last year. The man struck Aug. 9 and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. In that heist, he wore a wig and a long dress, Klaver said.

"We're pretty confident it's the same guy," Klaver said. "How many bank robbers are going to dress in women's clothes?"

Bandits have disguised themselves in Muslim clothing on at least one previous occasion. In May 2008, three men dressed as Muslim women stuck up a Bank of America branch on Aramingo Avenue. One of the men shot and killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski after the officer stopped their getaway vehicle.

The suspect in Tuesday's robbery, considered armed and dangerous, is described as black, in his 30s, 5-foot-7, and with a slight build.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI's Violent Crime Task Force at 215-418-4000. Callers may remain anonymous.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood

at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com.

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