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Tom Thumb Bandit captured, again proving the power of nicknaming

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The Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, the focus of a 2008 Westword feature, has proven again and again that nicknaming thugs is among the most powerful weapons in its arsenal. If not for them, alleged scofflaws such as the Hoppin Hooded Bandits and the $83 Bandit would be merely common goons instead of examples modern Colorado folklore figures.

The latest accused criminal to join their number? Robert Cole, who's thought to be the Tom Thumb Bandit. Unfortunately, Cole didn't earn the moniker because he's three-feet tall and had to stand on a box to shake down tellers. He simply was caught on a security cam during one heist with a bandage on his thumb. But the FBI suspects him of robbing six banks since March 2009. That's some big thieving for someone with such a diminutive-sounding nickname.

Get details on Cole below:

Tom Thumb Bank Robbery Bandit Arrested

On Friday, March 19, 2010, Denver Police Department, District 6 Police Officers, and the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force arrested a suspected bank robber while investigating the robbery of the First Bank, located at 370 17th Street, Denver.

The District 6 Police Officers are credited with canvassing local neighborhoods and showing photographs of the suspected bank robber dubbed the "TOM THUMB BANDIT." After following up a creditable lead developed by the officer's the identification and location of the suspect was made.

This investigation has determined that ROBERT COLE, 47 years of age, DOB 12/23/1962, may be the "TOM THUMB BANDIT" responsible for a series of bank robberies. COLE was arrested and jailed in the Denver City Jail. He will be charged with bank robbery and will appear before a United States Magistrate Judge for an initial appearance next week. The Tom Thumb Bandit is believed to be responsible for six bank robberies, which are listed below:

• 03/27/2009, Bank of Denver, 405 16th Street, Denver

• 10/09/2009, U.S. Bank, 1625 N. Broadway, Denver

• 11/27/2009, Wells Fargo Bank, 1740 N. Broadway, Denver

• 01/13/2010, Wells Fargo Bank, 1050 17th Street, Denver

• 03/12/2010, First Bank, 1200 17th Street, Denver

• 03/19/2010, First Bank, 370 17th Street, Denver

The name "Tom Thumb Bandit" was derived from a bank photograph taken during one of the robberies where the bandits thumb was wrapped in a bandage or cast.

Bank robbery is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence for each offense and increases if a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of the crime.

The FBI continues to provide financial institutions with the best practices for security to make them less vulnerable to robberies.

If anyone has any information on these bank robberies, or any bank robbery, please call the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171, or you can remain anonymous and earn up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) by calling CRIMESTOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).

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