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Setauket 'Vader' robber was all business, witnesses say

A gun-wielding man wearing a Darth Vader mask

A gun-wielding man wearing a Darth Vader mask and cape robs a Setauket bank, Thursday. (July 22, 2010) Photo Credit: SCPD

Much like the dastardly film character he came dressed as, the thief who robbed a Setauket bank this week had a very bad attitude, witnesses said Friday.

The tall man who held up a Chase bank Thursday in a Darth Vader outfit terrorized people in the bank by pointing his gun at them and throwing one of them to the floor, and he knocked down another person as he ran away with cash, according to police and people who witnessed the heist.

The man strode into the bank at 4080 Route 347 at 11:30 a.m., police and witnesses said. Witnesses said three customers were in the bank at the time of the robbery.

A muscular customer at the counter tried to put his arms around the thief, thinking it was a joke, said a woman who was in a conference area nearby.

But the costumed man threw the customer to the ground, pointed the gun at him and said, "I'll shoot you in the face. This isn't a joke," according to the woman, Kim, who did not want to give her last name.

Then, as another woman entered the bank, the thief swung around and pointed his gun at her, saying, "Not today, lady. Find a different bank," said Kim, who works at a nearby hair salon.

After the man grabbed the cash, he took off running east, knocking over a customer leaving a bagel shop, police said. The person was not injured.

Anthony Tavella, 23, an employee at a nearby liquor store was outside smoking a cigarette when he saw the man dressed as Vader run from the bank carrying a bag.

"I didn't think anything of it," he said. "I thought it was a joke or a prank, but then I heard someone shout that he robbed the bank."

Mike Fusco, a spokesman for Chase, referred questions about the heist to police. "We are happy our employees and customers are safe," he said.


Other infamous masked capers

The Bouquet Bandit. On Wednesday, the New York Police Department arrested a man for allegedly robbing a string of banks during two weeks in New York City, using flowers and potted plants to shield his face from cameras.

The Bling Bandit. Named for the flashy jewelry he wore while robbing banks in Queens and Nassau, a former NYPD officer was sentenced to five years in jail for robbing four banks. One item of jewelry, a ring commonly worn by retired NYPD detectives, led cops to the culprit.

The Bad Hatter. During one week in May 2008, one criminal robbed three Long Island banks wearing a variety of hats, including an Indiana Jones fedora and a black hat favored by Hasidic Jewish men.

The Crossdresser. In August 2007, a Lindenhurst man committed two bank heists within three hours - while dressed as a woman. He wore pink lipstick, blush and a shoulder-length wig, but was apprehended by police after they tracked his getaway vehicle.

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