July 26, 2009

He walked away from 23 banks

  Our guy always waited in line at the bank with a deposit slip in his hand and a gun in his pocket. Once he reached the head of the line, he announced he wasn’t making a deposit -- he was making a withdrawal.
  “Gimme all the money,” he said at an estimated 23 banks in four states including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
  The bank robber usually wore an unmarked tee shirt, jeans, a baseball cap and sunglasses. Once he reached the head of the line he’d order the teller to put the money in a canvas bag with a special warning: “If you try to slip a dye pack or tracking device in with the money I’ll shoot!”
  The “shoot” comment usually discouraged bank employees from trying to follow the bandit. He made his escape by simply walking away. But his walking escape became the only clue the cops or the FBI would ever have. He walked away from the bank rapidly -- but with a limp.
  That’s why he was nicknamed “the limping bandit.” One FBI agent said to a Charleston newspaper reporter, “He’d walk out of the bank and around a couple corners and blend right back into the public." There was nothing unusual about him, except for the limp.
  He was identified by the cops as Cecil Stephen Haire, 51, of Douglas, Ga., after he was arrested in mid-July. Immediately after a bank holdup a witness saw a limping man get into a car with a Georgia license plate. The witness wrote down the tag number and gave it to the cops. That was the only break investigators ever got after a three-year string of 23 bank robberies.
  What kind of a guy is Cecil Haire? We’re told the robber had polio when he was a kid and that accounted for the limp. He’s being held in the Charleston County Jail where cops will say little except that he has a criminal history. He was sentenced in Savannah, Ga., in 1979 to 20 years for bank robbery. He was released in 1986 after serving only seven years.

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