Friday, August 1, 2014
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'Inspector Clouseau' bandit charged in armed robberies

The "Inspector Clouseau bandit" at work at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Wilmington.
The "Inspector Clouseau bandit" at work at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Wilmington.
The "Inspector Clouseau bandit" at work at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Wilmington. Gallery: 'Inspector Clouseau' bandit charged in armed robberies

The armed “Inspector Clouseau bandit,” who police said struck two U.S. Post Offices and two bank branches while disguised in a custom-made mask, was charged today on multiple counts of bank robbery.

Blair Thomas Jr., 29, of Lansdowne, was allegedly armed with a .45-caliber Ruger on Jan. 22 as he began his two-day spree. His first stop allegedly was the U.S. Post Office in Yeadon. He presented a note demanding money orders. The clerk refused to cooperate. He fled empty handed.

Prosecutors said he proceeded less than an hour later to the Darby Post Office while wearing the mustachioed rubber mask. He approached an employee and demanded that she give him ten money orders of $1,000 each. The clerk, however, told the man she couldn’t issue money orders without an official transaction. Flummoxed, the masked man fled the post office.

Changing tactics, the man in the mustachioed mask hit two banks the next day. At the M&T Bank on Limestone Road in Wilmington, Del., he collected more than $17,500. At the Wells Fargo branch on 800 block of Baltimore Pike in Springfield, he fled with $1,890, police said.

In the end, it was the mask that revealed the bandit's identity. A surveillance picture and an anonymous tip led investigators to a special-effects shop in New Hampshire. The distinctive mask, which bore some resemblance to the bumbling Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies, was custom-made. Only 17 of the silicone “Raj” masks had been produced. One had been shipped to a Mr. Blair Thomas in Lansdowne on Dec. 29, 2013.

On Jan. 29, Federal investigators raided Thomas’ home on Hirst Ave. in East Lansdowne. There they found Thomas, the mask and $3,000. 


Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com. Follow @samwoodiii on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Sam Wood PHILLY.COM
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