Europe

Austria hunts 'bank robber with Barack Obama mask'

The Obama robber enters the bank in Handenberg, Austria, 20 January
Image caption The robber started his career with an "old man" mask

Police in Austria are hunting a gunman who robs banks wearing a rubber mask of US President Barack Obama - but speaks very much like a local.

The "Obama Robber" struck in the town of Handenberg on Thursday, robbing his sixth bank in the River Inn region since 2008, police say.

His stick-up technique does not change - only his getaway cars.

He turns up in a mask just before closing time, equipped with a silver pistol and a black shoulder bag.

The robber speaks in local dialect but could be from either the Inn River region or Bavaria, just across the border in Germany, Upper Austria police spokesman Mark Mitloehner said.

He is believed to have stolen 10,000 euros (£8,000, $13,000) in Handenberg while his biggest haul to date was 40,000 in July 2009, the Austrian news website krone.at reports.

Bad timing

Police believe he carried out his first hold-up in November 2008, in Weilbach, and his second the following May, in Reichersberg.

The July 2009 robbery was carried out in Maria Schmolln.

During these early crimes, the gunman wore a rubber "old man" mask, the Austrian news website nachrichten.at reports.

It was not until December 2009 that he donned a mask of America's photogenic leader, this time to rob a bank in Kirchheim.

A would-be robbery in February 2010, again in Kirchheim, was bungled when he turned up too late, and found the door shut on him.

Undeterred, he robbed a fifth bank in St Johann im Walde the following month.

CCTV images of the Handenberg robbery show the robber striding into the bank in an Obama mask and baseball cap, then waving his pistol as an employee stands over an open till.

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