Return of the Duct Tape Bandit

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Or Duct Tape Bandit, at least. It’s probably another copycat.

Duct Tape Bandit 1WCAX in Burlington, Vermont, where it’s currently a balmy -29 degrees counting wind chill, reports that police in Barre City are looking for a man who held up the North End Deli Mart on New Year’s Eve after disguising his face with duct tape.

Duct Tape Bandit 2As shown in these surveillance photos, the man brought the roll of duct tape with him and stopped in the parking lot to tear off a few strips, which he then used to cover his face. He did this in full view of the camera, of course, but happened to be turned to the side so the camera did not get a shot of his untaped facial parts. He then went into the Deli Mart and said something or other; the clerk wasn’t able to understand him, perhaps because he had duct tape on his face. But he managed to convey the suggestion that he had a weapon in his pocket (although probably it was just a roll of duct tape) and that he wanted money. The clerk handed over the cash drawer and the man ran away with it.

Normally one would take the cash out of the drawer, I believe, just because it’s easier to conceal. Police didn’t find the drawer outside the store, either, so if anybody sees a guy walking around Vermont with a cash drawer, please call 802-476-6613. That’s probably the guy they’re looking for.

HoodThe report notes that disguises are “nothing new,” which is certainly true, and lists some that are pretty standard except for “backward sweatshirts with holes cut in them,” as shown in this still from the WCAX clip. I actually thought this was fairly ingenious, as criminal disguises go; he cut eyeholes in the hood of a hoodie and wore it backwards so he could just pull it up for quick concealment. Assuming you quickly turn it right-side-out again after the robbery so you’re not running around with a hood flapping on your chest, this might work pretty well. But the duct-tape disguise was a new one, at least to these people:

Reporter Kristin Kelly: Have you ever encountered a duct tape disguise before?

Det. Roland Tousignant: That’s a first [laughs].

Maybe for Vermont, but it’s the third example mentioned here (I’m not counting The Tree That Robbed a Bank for this purpose, although he did use duct tape to attach the branches). No one tops the original Duct Tape Bandit, Kasey Kazee, whose implementation of this disguise in 2007 involved wrapping duct tape around and around his entire head, making it virtually impossible to remove. Possibly learning from his example, the next guy to use it deployed only a single strip across the nose and cheeks. That makes it a lot easier to free yourself, but didn’t seem to provide too much coverage. Now Mark III of the disguise seems to combine features of the first two: the effective coverage of Mark I plus the removability of Mark II. It probably needs a little refinement in order to allow speech, but still this is a lot of improvement in just seven years.

This is almost certainly three different people, rather than one learning from experience, since these incidents occurred in Kentucky, Washington, and Vermont respectively. (Also, DTB No. 1 is probably still in prison.) But since the disguise is clearly evolving, maybe criminals are conferring in some fashion, or maybe they are reading this blog? They probably aren’t great readers, but I’d like to think that’s true, at least.