Jobless sailor robbed banks with fake gun

An unemployed merchant seaman is to be charged with robbing 16 banks over the past five years with a replica pistol, following his arrest after a 17,000-euro heist in southern Athens yesterday. Michalis Costis, 43, was caught just after 9 a.m. outside an Agricultural Bank branch at 124 Chrysostomou Smyrnis St in Moschato, which he had just robbed at gunpoint wearing a motorcycle helmet. As he fled on foot with 16,700 euros, he was arrested by the bank’s guard and a policeman who was on duty in the area. Police believe Costis stole a total of over 143,000 euros during a string of heists that started in September 1998. In many cases, he was captured on the banks’ closed-circuit TV cameras. About half an hour after Costis’s arrest, a gunman stole 7,500 euros from a Commercial Bank branch at 143 Liosion Street near the city center.