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He has ‘tattoos everywhere.’ They tied him to a Gulfport Dunkin Donuts robbery.

The robber used a ball cap, clothing and sunglasses to try to conceal his identity. But he couldn’t cover everything.
This is a booking photo of Eric Banks, who police say robbed a Dunkin Donuts in Gulfport in September. [Sarasota County Jail]
This is a booking photo of Eric Banks, who police say robbed a Dunkin Donuts in Gulfport in September. [Sarasota County Jail]
Published Dec. 13, 2019

Eric Banks has a lot of tattoos.

In fact, when he was arrested on a burglary charge a few years back, deputies at the Pinellas County Jail wrote of his description: “tattoos everywhere.”

He has a shamrock and grenade on his neck, a heart with flames and marijuana leaves on his chest, flames and skulls on his left arm, and a dragon and a devil’s face on his right arm.

The tattoos would be part of his undoing as they led Gulfport police to identify him in a robbery of a Dunkin Donuts that occurred in September, police said Friday.

It wasn’t easy.

Police said that on Sept. 13, a man pulled out an 8-inch-long folding knife and demanded money from the register at the Dunkin Donuts, 5602 Gulfport Blvd.

The robber used a black ball cap, sunglasses and a torn piece of clothing to try to conceal his identity.

But he couldn’t cover everything.

An employee discreetly used a cell phone to take photos of the robber. The photos showed “unique tattoos” on his arms and also clearly captured what the robber was wearing.

Police were called after the robber left, and K9 deputies from the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office tracked the robber’s scent to a nearby field. There they found the clothes that the robber had been wearing, though the robber was nowhere to be found.

The Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory pulled DNA from the clothing and was able to determine that it belonged to Banks, who has an arrest history in Pinellas that includes charges of aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a crash, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, DUI and driving with a suspended license.

To be sure Banks was their guy, police took the cell phone photos taken by the Dunkin employee and compared them to photos taken of Banks’ tattoos when he was previously booked into jail.

They were a match, police said.

Gulfport police then got a warrant for Banks’ arrest.

Police learned that Banks, 39, is now living in Sarasota. Deputies in that county arrested him on an armed robbery charge Thursday. He was booked into the Sarasota County Jail on $150,000 bail and will eventually face trial in Pinellas County.

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