Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

The Grandpa Bandit

Real Name: Unrevealed
Aliases: Grandpa Bandit
Wanted For: Armed Robbery
Missing Since: September 1991


Details: In September of 1991, an elderly man entered the Valley Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas. He approached bank manager Alison Owen about getting a second mortgage on his home. He told her that he had cancer and claimed that he was seeking the loan because he needed money for his living expenses until he died. Alison made some phone calls but determined that the bank could not assist him with his request. The man then left the bank.
Fifteen minutes later, he returned and asked if it would be better if his wife applied for the loan. As Alison wrote down the number for a mortgage broker, the man pulled out a gun. He told her to be quiet and not make any sudden moves. He said that he was going to rob the bank. He also said that he would kill her if she did not do what he said. He then pulled out a "bomb" and had her place it on her wrist. He told her that the bomb would activate if an alarm was pulled. He also told her that she needed to keep it within six inches of her body or else it would detonate. She noted that he was very calm and did not seem agitated or upset.
He asked her to open the vault. However, two employees had to be present to complete the task. Alison summoned one of the tellers to her desk. The robber then placed a bomb on the teller's wrist as well. Alison and her co-worker then walked to the vault with the robber following them close behind. Once inside, the robber opened his briefcase and gave them a satchel-type bag to put the money in. They put cash from one of the safes into the bag. However, when they opened another safe, it was empty. Alison told the robber that the money had been picked up earlier that day. He was upset and claimed that she was lying; however, she insisted that she was telling the truth.
The robber then told them that he was leaving. Alison asked about removing the bombs; he told her that he would call them back in twenty minutes with instructions. He then calmly left the building with $37,000 in cash. The bank was immediately evacuated except for Alison and the teller. After twenty-five minutes, a bomb expert finally arrived. He quickly determined that the devices were fakes.
Investigators noted two unique facts about this robbery. First, it took well over ten minutes, whereas most bank robbers wish to make their crime as quickly as possible in order to make a clean getaway. Also, not once did the robber raise his voice to either employee, keeping an even-keeled tone of voice the entire time. Most bank robbers are excited, nervous, jumpy, or a combination of all emotions, and often shout at or threaten bank employees while the crime is in progress.
The Grandpa Bandit is around fifty-five-years-old (in 1993), 5'6", weighs 170 pounds, has light brown hair, a pockmarked complexion, and wears glasses. He may have robbed at least three other banks throughout the Western United States.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 19, 1993 episode, along with Milk Carton Bandit.
Results: Wanted. The "Grandpa Bandit" was never positively identified, and the only leads police had were camera footage and victim descriptions. The robber remains a national fugitive, but authorities believe that given the elderly appearance of the "Grandpa Bandit", he may have died of old age without being brought to justice for his offense. If he is still alive, he will be in his eighties.