For well over a year, dozens of detectives from the YAMAR investigative unit
spent day and night tracking one of the Central District’s top public enemies,
building a geographic and psychological profile and deploying officers on
stakeouts across the district, all with one goal – to put the “Motorcycle Bandit
2” behind bars.
On Sunday, a day before the indictment of 30-year-old
Rishon Lezion native Gabi Korsanosky, police spoke about the gargantuan effort
put into finding a man they believe robbed more than 15 banks and murdered
security guard Yaniv Engler during a robbery last August.
YAMAR Central District commander Yigal Ben- Shalom, after the first few
robberies a little over a-year-and-a-half ago, police realized that in all
likelihood they were dealing with a serial bank robber, and began working to
build a profile for the suspect.
Ben-Shalom said police worked on the
case without any previous intelligence or informants leading them to Korsanosky.
Instead, they built a geographical profile for the robber and deployed police
and Border Police undercover units in the field hour after hour, day after day,
waiting to catch him where they assumed he would strike next.
on December 5, the work paid off when undercover officers from the Border Police
101 unit on stakeout outside a bank caught Korsanosky red-handed walking out of
a branch in Ness Ziona moments after he robbed it.
“We knew he would make
a mistake and the challenge for us was to be at the right place at the right
time,” Central District commander Maj.-Gen. Benzi Sau said
Ben-Shalom said police knew that the robber would return to
the scene of his previous robberies, and worked to deploy police around the
“We knew he would return to some of the same banks,” he said. “You
return to the places where you succeed. It is a basic thing they teach in
criminology – you know that a criminal will return to a place where they were
Altogether, there were three different banks that police say
Korsanosky robbed twice, including the Be’er Ya’acov bank, where in one of the
robberies he made off with about NIS 300,000.
For police however,
Korsanosky is first and foremost a murderer, not a bank robber.
beginning police have worked to connect him to the August 2011 robbery of a
Be’er Ya’acov bank, in which security guard Yair Engler was murdered. For
Ben-Shalom, that killing shows the seriousness of the man police were dealing
“This was a murderer who would not hesitate to kill in order to
accomplish his goal,” said Ben-Shalom. “A normal criminal, once things stop
going according to plan they will give up and flee the scene. This man,
he simply overpowered the guard, shot him to death and then continued inside to
rob the bank and then fled. We knew this is someone who would kill a civilian or
a police officer if they got in his way.”
As Ben-Shalom and Sau talked
about the case, it became evident that in the hunt for Korsanosky money was no
factor, as police poured thousands of man hours into a case, particularly
notable for an active district that includes such crime heavy areas as Netanya,
the Arab-Israeli towns of the triangle, Ramle and Lod.
“We made a
strategic decision that no matter what other cases are going on in the district,
we would not leave this case or put it aside because this man was a threat to
the entire public,” Ben-Shalom said.
He wouldn’t estimate how much the
investigation cost, though Sau did surmise that it was in the millions of
shekels, no small sum in light of police budget constraints.
detective defended the investigation’s high cost, saying “I can assure you every
time a fighter jet goes for a test run over central Israel they spend more than
we did, and what does it matter when it is the lives of your family or mine that
are in danger?” The case against Korsanosky has not been without its
The courts have extended Korsanosky’s remand seven times,
well over the norm, as police worked for more than 50 days to secure an
When Korsanosky was first arrested, and before he consulted
with his lawyers, police took him to the scene of a robbery in Bat Yam, which he
confessed to, and since them police have had more than enough to connect him to
that robbery and the one where he was caught red-handed.
over the past two months, Korsanosky has not cooperated with investigators or
spoken one word, police said, as investigators worked to connect him to the
murder of Engler.
The long delay has raised questions about the strength
of the evidence against Korsanosky, or if, police even have the right man,
despite the fanfare surrounding the arrest. It is also unclear why there was no
intelligence pointing to Korsanosky, a former Border Police officer, as he was a
relatively well-known gambler in Rishon Lezion, who apparently had worked up a
very large debt and was robbing banks partly to pay off local
While police were reluctant to divulge much of the case against
Korsanosky, certain aspects of the investigation have appeared recently in the
press. These include the testimony of an ex-girlfriend whose house is near the
bank branch where Engler worked; who said Korsanosky came to visit her shortly
after the robbery and murder, and appeared to be severely stressed. Korsanosky
also reportedly wore the same shirt during a few of the robberies, and the SIM
card of his phone was removed before several of the robberies, possibly so he
could not be traced by his cellphone.
During several of the robberies
Korsanosky allegedly entered the bank branch and fired a single shot into the
air, before then robbing it and fleeing on a motorcycle.
Police would not
say if rounds taken from the bank ceilings matched the bullet that killed Engler
or, if the one taken from Engler matched the gun found on Korsanosky when he was
arrested on December 5.
Another one of Korsanosky’s methods, according to
police, was to steal the bank security guard’s gun, a method he used seven
times. Police have only recovered one of those guns, and they have no idea what
Korsanosky did with the other six, Ben-Shalom said Sunday.
Korsanosky’s lawyers, Shahar Hatzrani, sounded optimistic on Sunday
Hatzrani said that over the past nearly two months “not a single
piece of evidence has been presented to Gabi or me that directly connects him to
any of the robberies. The fact that it took them so long to get an indictment
shows they weren’t able to put together the puzzle the way they wanted to.”