Police report sharp spike in Toronto bank robberies this year

Toronto police say they are dealing with a pronounced spike in bank robberies this year.
Toronto police are dealing with a recent spike in bank robberies. 2:05

Toronto police say they are dealing with a pronounced spike in bank robberies this year.

Staff Insp. Mike Earl said the hold-up squad has seen 75 per cent more bank robberies occurring through the first three months of the year, compared to the same time period a year ago.

"I would say that we’re having some serial bank robberies right now," Earl said, during a news conference on Tuesday morning. "We had a few serials in the first few months."

But Earl said that as of the midday on Tuesday, there had not been any reported bank robberies in Toronto during the month of April.

The apparent spike in bank robberies in the city this year is contrary to the long-term trend in the Toronto area.

Statistics from the Canadian Bankers Association show that bank robberies in the Greater Toronto Area have essentially decreased by a half over the past decade or so.

A similar trend has occurred in the province and across the country.

According to Earl, Toronto police have generally cleared 85 to 93 per cent of bank robberies, on an annual basis, over the past five years or so.

Additionally, Earl said that the cases don’t die once a press conference occurs, with officers routinely solving prior robberies through DNA and other forensic techniques.

"If we can solve a crime going back years, we’re going to solve it," he said.

Police seek to identify 4 suspects

At the news conference, Earl outlined four particular suspects that police are trying to identify in a series of robberies, some of which date back to October.

Following a Tuesday news conference, Toronto police released an image of a bank robbery suspect whom they have dubbed the so-called 'Pleather Bandit.' (Toronto Police Service)

The first suspect has been dubbed the Pleather Bandit, in part because Earl said it is believed the suspect may have worn an imitation leather jacket in an alleged robbery at a downtown Bank of Montreal on March 11.

Police describe the suspect is a black or brown male, who is believed to be 40 to 50 years of age. At one point, police believe he moved prescription glasses down onto his face. He is also believed to have an accent.

"He made a verbal demand and he passed over a note indicating that he was armed with a handgun, placing his hand inside his jacket," Earl said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The suspect fled the scene with "a quantity of cash," Earl said. No one was injured.

Another suspect police are seeking to identify is a male that Earl said police are calling "the Man in Black."

According to Earl, this suspect was involved in alleged robbery at a bank at Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street on Jan. 15.

The suspect dressed in black and wore dark black sunglasses, Earl said.

A note was allegedly passed to a teller, indicating that the suspect was armed with a handgun. He, too, left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Police posted a video on YouTube that features images of this suspect, which can be viewed immediately below:

Police are also looking for a male suspect they are calling the "Box Cutter Bandit," whom is alleged to have been involved in robberies at three different banks.

Toronto police released an image Tuesday of a bank robbery suspect they have dubbed the 'Box Cutter Bandit.' (Toronto Police Service)

Earl said the so-called Box Cutter Bandit is a white male, believed to be 35 to 40 years of age, standing 5'9" to 6' tall. The suspect wore a dark winter coat and scarf around his face, along with a tuque.

Police allege that this suspect hit a series of Bloor Street West banks on Wednesdays during the month of March.

Earl said that tellers have indicated the suspect has produced a box cutter-type knife during the alleged robberies.

A fourth suspect, whom Earl called the "Mummy Bandit," has allegedly been linked to "approximately" seven robberies dating back to October.

Earl said the suspect has gone to banks wearing "some sort of disguise."

Police allege that this suspect has produced "either a knife or a handgun" in each of the alleged robberies.

It is believed that this suspect is between 5'6" and 5'10" tall, and is 20 to 30 years of age.

The most recent robbery this suspect has been linked to was an alleged robbery at a bank near Yonge and Carlton streets on March 27, Earl said.

Police also posted a video on YouTube featuring videos of this suspect: