TAMPA, Fla. – The Band-Aid Bandit — a stick-up artist who robbed 40 Florida banks over the past five and a half years, often while wearing a bandage on his cheek — was finally captured Thursday, authorities said.
Rafael Angel Rondon, 50, was arrested at his home in Clermont and charged with three of the holdups attributed to the Band-Aid Bandit.
He was identified by his license plate, which was captured on surveillance cameras outside a Pinellas Park bank robbed last week, authorities said. Also, authorities said Rondon's handprint was found at the scene of what was believed to be the bandit's first robbery, committed in 2000.
Authorities say the Band-Aid Bandit, who sometimes carried a silver-colored revolver, made off with about half a million dollars from banks in nine central Florida counties. Photos of him had been circulated in Florida for years without success.
Before detectives started calling the bank robber the Band-Aid Bandit, he was known as the Beer Belly Bandit.
Rondon's arrest shocked Laurie Maguire, his next-door neighbor for three years. She said he liked to work in his yard and "fit right in" in their working- and middle-class neighborhood.
"He was very friendly, just like any other neighbor," Maguire said. "You wouldn't have known they had money."
The arrest complaint said Florida wage records show Rondon last worked in June 2001. Property records valued his home at about $276,000.
Investigators said Rondon used a bandage in many robberies to cover a mole on his left cheek, and also used wigs, fake mustaches and sunglasses as disguises.
Agents also arrested 54-year-old Emeregildo Roman on charges he joined the Band-Aid Bandit in several of the robberies.
In their first court appearance, both men told a magistrate Thursday they could not afford an attorney. Lawyers appointed for both men said that they had not had time to review the case, and a woman in the courtroom who identified herself as a relative of both men declined to comment on the arrests.
A bond hearing was set for Friday; prosecutors want the men held without bond.
A task force was created to hunt the Band-Aid Bandit as the robbery tactics seemed to grow more dangerous. At several banks, the gunmen threatened to shoot employees if they put dye packs in with the cash, authorities said.