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'I-4 bandit' busted robbing a bank again, Clearwater police say

He was suspected of as many as 19 bank robberies from two decades ago, authorities say.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A serial bank robber once dubbed the "I-4 bandit" was arrested again Tuesday after police say he robbed a bank in Clearwater.

David Marc Ratcliff, 55, had been previously released from federal prison. He had served time after being convicted on six counts of armed bank robbery related to cases from the late 1990s. Ratcliff, police said, was suspected of up to 19 bank robberies across the Interstate 4 corridor around that time period.

More recently, however, detectives say they'd identified him as a suspect in bank robberies that happened this month in St. Petersburg and Temple Terrace.

At 10:44 a.m., the Clearwater Police Department was alerted to a holdup at the Wells Fargo on S. Ft. Harrison Avenue near Pine Street. Witnesses told police they saw the robber drive away in a red Dodge Magnum.

Just minutes later, officers spotted the car getting gas on Clearwater-Largo Road. A deputy then tried to stop the car on West Bay Drive, but authorities say it sped away.

There wasn't a chase, but a sheriff's office helicopter tracked it to Belleair Beach. There, police say Ratcliff abandoned the Magnum and tried to steal a truck on Harbor Drive.

"The truck owner fought with the suspect, and the suspect ran from the scene, but was caught by a sheriff's office K-9 shortly thereafter," a Clearwater police spokesperson wrote in an email.

Ratcliff was taken to Morton Plant Hospital, then booked into the Pinellas County Jail. 

Credit: Clearwater Police Department

"Thanks to information from witnesses, alert Clearwater Police detectives and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, we are grateful this repeat offender was captured," Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter wrote in a statement. "Based on Ratcliff's most recent string of crimes, we are hopeful this criminal career is finished for good this time."