Florida “I-4 Bandit” bank robber arrested for new heist just months after release from jail – NBC Connecticut
A serial Florida bank robber, dubbed “I-4 bandit,” was arrested on Tuesday in another heist just months after being released from prison, police said.
David Marc Ratcliff, 55, was arrested after a brief chase in the Gulf Coast town of Belleair Beach following a theft from a Wells Fargo branch near Clearwater, authorities said.
Ratcliff was released from federal custody in June after serving most of a 25-year prison sentence for committing a series of bank robberies in the late 1990s, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons files.
These 19 previous flights were linked by Interstate 4, which crosses central Florida, giving it the nickname “bandit”. Ratcliff was convicted of six of those crimes, but federal prosecutors said he was responsible for many more.
Clearwater Police received a call at around 10:44 a.m. Tuesday about a theft at the Wells Fargo branch. A witness saw the suspect get into a red Dodge Magnum and drive away.
Moments later, police said, a detective spotted the vehicle refueling at a station and attempted a traffic stop. The vehicle accelerated and was then followed by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department helicopter to Belleair Beach, just south of Clearwater.
Ratcliff abandoned the Dodge in an owner’s driveway and attempted to steal a pickup truck in the beach area, but the driver fired back. Ratcliff fled when police arrived and was caught by a K-9 police dog, according to Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter.
Authorities said Ratcliff also allegedly robbed banks in November in Temple Terrace and St. Petersburg, both in the Tampa Bay area.
“Based on Ratcliff’s most recent crime spree, we hope this criminal career is definitely over this time around,” Slaughter said in a press release.
It was not immediately clear whether Ratcliff had a lawyer to represent him. The amount of money involved in the bank robbery was not disclosed and authorities did not say whether the suspect was armed. No injuries were reported.