UPDATE: "Granddad Bandit" waives extradition, returning to VA

Published: Aug. 13, 2010 at 3:04 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2010 at 7:07 PM EDT
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By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The alleged "Granddad Bandit" Michael Mara appeared in court Friday morning in Louisiana.  He waived extradition and authorities are making arrangements to bring him to Virginia.

Court papers reveal the methods Mara used to rob more than twenty banks, including two in the Richmond area.

The FBI said he would walk into banks, including a SunTrust in downtown Richmond, with handwritten notes and very specific demands.

It was December 19, 2008, the day the feds said Michael Mara committed the first in a string of unarmed robberies. They claim he wrote a note to a teller that said "Give me $2,000", "You have one minute" to comply. It would not be his last appearance in the region.

On June 22 of this year, the FBI says the bandit came to Short Pump, and walked into the Union First Market Bank on West Broad. Here the demands went up. Mara wrote to a teller "Give me $5,000, no bait money" according to an affidavit. "Don't say anything".

And the FBI says he was last seen on foot behind the bank, going into a parking lot at West Broad Village. Last seen, that is, until Wednesday when Mara was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following a tip that originated in Norfolk.

"I don't know what sparked him to do this, I have no earthly idea," said Michael F.A. Morehart, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

The FBI credits teamwork with local police, along with an aggressive media campaign featuring the Granddad Bandit on electronic billboards. That initial tip was received on the same day the billboards were turned on.

"It did not take long, and it all just worked perfectly," Morehart said.

Those in advertising call it an inspired piece of investigative work.

"When you're able to label someone like that and basically put that up as a brand, with the ID, with the  picture, and do it in a creative way, and get it out through the right channels, then it's easy for the public to  remember that," said David Saunders, President and Chief Idea Officer of Madison & Main.

It could take a couple of weeks to return Mara to Virginia.

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