Prosecutors called for a 15-year prison term for Canada’s “most notorious bank robber” during a sentencing hearing Wednesday, where new details emerged about the “Vaulter Bandit” and how he was brought to justice last year with the help of the FBI.
French-American Jeffrey James Shuman, 54, was wanted on a Canadian international arrest warrant in connection with 17 bank robberies over five years starting in February 2010. He was arrested in September 2015 and pleaded guilty to seven of those robberies Wednesday.
Shuman was dubbed the “Vaulter Bandit” by police for his style of jumping over bank counters during robberies. In the majority of the robberies the Crown said Shuman was unmasked because he did not have a criminal record in Canada, was not a Canadian citizen and knew investigators would have difficulty identifying him.
Banks were targeted in Toronto, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, two in Mississauga and two in Vaughan, Ont., where close to $455,000 was stolen.
Shuman was identified by investigators after he left a black binder and pen in a vault during a robbery on May 8, 2015 at a TD Canada Trust bank in Mississauga, where he also allegedly locked numerous employees before escaping with $250,000.
A fingerprint was recovered from inside of the binder, which yielded a DNA sample that was submitted to the FBI that positively identified Shuman.
VIDEO: Alleged ‘vaulter bandit’ back in Canada to face charges (March 1, 2016)
He also had an extensive criminal record in the U.S., where he was known as the “Reebok Bandit,” including convictions for bank robberies and was wanted for violating conditions of his release.
Jean Philippe Brandt, a spokesman for Geneva police, told Global News in September 2015 Shuman was arrested after police received a tip he would be in Geneva. He added the suspect was apprehended by undercover police officers while driving on a downtown Geneva street and was extradited to Canada in February 2016.
“We are very pleased that Canada’s most notorious bank robber is finally in custody,” York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said at the time.
“We credit the professionalism and hard work of our investigators and those in the partner agencies and we thank the authorities in Europe for their cooperation and diligence which led to his capture.”
In June 2014, the Canadian Bankers Association increased its reward for information related to the apprehension of Shuman to $100,000 from $50,000.
“Our message to bank robbers is — if you rob a bank, you won’t get away with it,” the CBA said in a statement to Global News Wednesday.
“When bank robbers see that they won’t get away with this, then they’ll think twice about committing the crime in the first place.”
Shuman is still awaiting sentencing and the Crown is calling for a sentence of 15 years based on the assertion that he came to Canada for no other reason than for criminal activity.
“The sole reason for his attendance in Canada was to commit the bank robberies,” Crown lawyer Melisa Montemurro said.
“He had no other reason to be here.”
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