‘Mad Hatter’ bank robber is ‘quick change’ artist who’s frustrating NYPD

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK -- When the bearded guy in the black bike helmet entered the HSBC Bank on E. 68th St. and Third Avenue on Monday, July 18, he was carrying a black shopping bag.

But there was no bicycle in sight.

Inside the bank, the man in the helmet passed a note to the teller, demanding cash in 50's and 100’s—and warned that he had a gun.

The frightened teller quickly handed over $7,400 in cash, as the bank robber—who was wearing sunglasses—yelled obscenities at her to move faster.

It was the 8th time the “Mad Hatter” robber had hit a bank in Manhattan since March. His nickname comes from the variety of hats he’s worn since the bank jobs began.

“He’s very good at what he does,” Detective Cliff Parks of the NYPD’s Major Case Squad told PIX11 News. “He’s in and out of there in less than two minutes. He’s calm.”

He also wears gloves, so he doesn’t leave his fingerprints behind.

The heists are part of Robbery Pattern # 14, which has spurred the NYPD to reach out to PIX11.

“I believe your viewership, somebody out there, recognizes him,” said Lieutenant John Rogan, Executive Officer of the Major Case Squad. “He’s somebody’s son; he’s a brother or friend of someone. A neighbor.”

In the most recent heist July 18, the suspect was captured on surveillance camera walking south on Second Avenue, wearing his helmet, before turning on 68th Street to enter the bank.

He’s captured very clearly on the bank camera, passing a note to the teller and looking annoyed when the woman doesn’t give the cash to him fast enough.

He then stuffs the cash into his shopping bag and leaves.

Another surveillance camera shows the suspect taking off the helmet on the street outside, pulling off his black shirt, and putting the items into a different shopping bag, which is lime green.

He is then seen on another surveillance camera walking down the street with no hat, a red shirt, and carrying the lime-green bag.

“He’s a male white, approximately 25 to 35 years old,” said Detective Parks. “5 foot 6, thin build. He has a reddish-brown beard.”

The elusive robbery suspect was wearing a brown knit cap and a brown scarf when he hit his first bank on March 15 this year. He always has sunglasses on.

The first heist happened at Santander Bank at the corner of 34th Street and Lexington Avenue.

He left with about $2,200.

His next robbery was on May 12 at Santander Bank at 45th Street and Third Avenue.

That also netted the suspect about $2,200.

He wore the black, bike helmet for this second job.

The ‘Mad Hatter’ then returned to Santander at 34th Street on May 27.

But he apparently got spooked.

“The teller recognized him, he got nervous, and he walked out,” said Detective Parks.

The suspect was wearing a dark baseball cap when he hit HSBC Bank at 354 Sixth Avenue on May 31.

He stayed on the West Side and wore a tan, safari jacket with a dark baseball cap, when he robbed HSBC Bank at Broadway and 70th Street on June 13.

His take that day was $787.

On June 24, he came away with $2,200 at HSBC at 121 Amsterdam Avenue at West 95th Street. He was wearing a tan fedora and black hoodie.

He went back to the East Side to hit the HSBC Bank at 45 East 89th Street, wearing a darker brown fedora and blue, buttoned denim shirt.

Finally, he was captured on multiple surveillance cameras July 18, robbing the HSBC at Third Avenue and 68th Street.

“He’s very distinctive in his walk,” Lieutenant Rogan of Major Case pointed out. “He uses his arms, motioning, as he walks.”

The detectives are hoping the ‘Mad Hatter’s’ walk—and his looks—will give him up soon.

Anyone who thinks they know who the suspect is can call the NYPD’s “Crime Stoppers” unit at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, and tipsters could get a reward if there’s an arrest and conviction.