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FACE MASK THAT'S SO REALISTIC EVERY THIEF WANTS ONE; Bank raider pretended to be black.

Byline: Amy Devine

ROBBERS could be using ultralifelike silicone masks to escape justice, cops have revealed.

They reckon the realistic disguises ha v e be c ome t he mus t -ha v e accessory for crooks in the US.

A white robber was arrested in Ohio af ter he used one to t ransform himself into a black person.

Now police believe the notorious "Geezer Bandit" - an elderly man who has held up banks in southern California - could be a young man using one of the masks.

SPFX Masks make the movie-quality disguises - which can cost up to pounds 760 - with human hair and a special silicone to make them look like real skin.

Last week, white bank robber Conrad Zdzierak, 30, admitted using one of their masks to change himself into a black crook.

The disguise was so effective, an innocent man was arrested and held in custody for several months.

Witnesses, including six out of seven bank workers who took part in a photo line-up, wrongly identified the innocent black man.

Detective Keenan Riordan said: "We showed the picture to his mother and even she thought it was him."

Zdzierak was only caught when his girlfriend found a large stash of money and one of the masks.

SPFX Masks owner Rusty Slusser said he was proud of the disguises but not proud of the way they are being used by thieves. He added "We're embarrassed this has happened."

The masks were used in 2007 horror film Hallows Point.

And, in October, a Chinese man seeking asylum in Canada used one of the masks to disguise himself as an elderly male to get through airport security in Hong Kong.

It is believed several wHollywood stars have even used them to evade paparazzi.

CAPTION(S):

GROUNDED: The Chinese asylum seeker NICKED: Zdzierak and, right, wearing the mask on a robbery
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 11, 2010
Words:311
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