Dead man found on beach identified as ‘Bearded Bandit’ bank robber

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At the time, the FBI released surveillance photos of the robber they dubbed the “Bearded Bandit.” (FBI)

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ENCINITAS, Calif. — The man whose body was found on an Encinitas beach this week is believed to be a convicted bank robber once known as the “Bearded Bandit.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that 32-year-old Christopher Andrew Gibson, identified by the medical examiner’s office as the man found dead near Stonesteps Beach May 4, is the same Christopher Gibson who pleaded guilty in 2015 to robbing a San Diego bank and two others in Vista.

At the time of his conviction, Gibson was 27, making his age, name and general location a match with the bank robber. FOX 5 has reached out to county officials to independently verify the connection, but had not heard back as of Thursday afternoon.

The FBI commonly uses nicknames to grab the public’s attention as investigators try to track down bank thieves, and they dubbed Gibson the “Bearded Bandit” for the shaggy facial hair he wore during the first two heists. In his third robbery, Gibson ditched the eponymous facial hair and arrived clean shaven in a fedora, FOX 5 reported at the time.

Across the three banks, the robber made away with about $8,000, according to prosecutors.

He was ultimately sentenced to five years and eight months in federal prison. In January 2020, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for failing to report back to a halfway house, according to the U-T.

It’s not yet known where Gibson had been living at the time he died, or how his body wound up on shore, as the medical examiner has not yet released a suspected cause of death.

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