CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Clearwater police say the man dubbed the “I-4 Bandit” in the ’90s was back to robbing banks in the Tampa Bay area.
Police say David Ratcliff robbed the Wells Fargo on South Fort Harrison Avenue Tuesday morning. He reportedly climbed over the counter to get money after becoming impatient with the teller.
A detective saw Ratcliff getting gas not too far away. Minutes later, a sheriff’s deputy tried to pull Ratliff over, but he sped off.
That’s when the sheriff’s office helicopter tracked him to Belleair Beach where he tried to steal a truck. The owner of that truck fought him off and a K-9 eventually caught up to him.
Ratcliff was taken to Morton Plant Hospital for treatment before being taken to the Pinellas County Jail.
Police say Ratcliff told officers he was the I-4 bandit from years ago. He was suspected of robbing as many as 19 banks along and near the Interstate 4 corridor. He also spent time in federal prison.
Police say Ratcliff is also a suspect in two other bank robberies in Temple Terrace and St. Petersburg earlier this month.
Ratcliff faces an armed robbery charge out of Clearwater and multiple charges from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“Thanks to information from witnesses, alert Clearwater Police detectives and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, we are grateful this repeat offender was captured,” said Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter. “Based on R7194405atcliff’s most recent string of crimes, we are hopeful this criminal career is finished for good this time.”