06/18/2014 01:55 EDT | Updated 08/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Bankers' group hikes reward to $50,000 for capture of Vaulter Bandit

TORONTO - A bankers' group has increased a reward to help catch a robber dubbed the Vaulter Bandit, who is wanted for 17 robberies at banks in numerous Canadian cities.

The Canadian Bankers Association hiked its reward to $50,000 from $20,000 on Wednesday.

Police say the robber — armed with a handgun — first struck in York Region north of Toronto back in February 2010 and robbed banks in Mississauga, Ont., and Hamilton later that year before heading to Calgary in early 2011, where he robbed four banks in 10 days.

It's alleged the same suspect resurfaced in Ontario and hit York Region banks again before robbing an Ottawa bank in May 2011 and another one in Vaughan, just outside Toronto, that December.

Police believe the suspect did not commit another robbery until last month, when he robbed a TD Bank in Toronto on May 5.

Toronto police Det. Sgt. Mike Earl says the suspect is very athletic for someone believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s, jumping over bank counters like a hurdler.

Police say they are concerned because the robberies are becoming more violent, with the suspect taking bank employees hostage as they open for business and forcing them inside at gunpoint and into a vault.

"He's committing these crimes across the country and we're trying to put an end to this reign or very long spree of robberies that this individual has been conducting," Earl said.

Police released surveillance video from several robberies and described the suspect as white, five-foot-eight to five-foot-10 with a medium build, very fit and wearing glasses.

(680News, The Canadian Press)

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