Inside the bicycle bandit’s brutal 10-year spree

The notorious Adelaide Hills bank robbing bicycle bandit, wearing a balaklava and carrying a gun, captured on security cameras.
The notorious Adelaide Hills bank robber, revealed as Kym Parsons, hit 11 banks over ten years, armed with a rifle and wearing a black balaclava. Picture: Supplied

It’s like something out of a Hollywood movie.

A man, armed with a rifle and wearing a black balaclava, hits 11 banks in a 10-year robbery spree from 2004 to 2014.

Justice finally caught up with him when he accidentally left some blood at a crime scene.

He storms in, threatens violence against anyone who stands in his way, and empties tills, safes and strong rooms, and makes off with a combined $358,000.

He evades capture for years until the police finally catch up with him nearly a decade later, searching his home to find the notorious rifle still in his possession.

He originally pleads not guilty to the brutal spree, but then suddenly, in a shock twist, admits to his terrible crimes as cancer corrodes his brain and bones.

A Supreme Court justice sentences him to 35 years in prison, but then, less than two days later, he’s dead, taking his own life through a voluntary assisted dying procedure.

It’s the story of Kym Parsons, nicknamed the ‘bicycle bandit’, and it shows that sometimes truth can be stranger and more brutal than fiction.

Video surveillance image of SA bank robber known as the Bicycle Bandit robbing bank branch at Yankalilla in Dec 2007.
‘Bicycle Bandit’ Kym Parsons robs the Yankalilla branch. Picture: Supplied

May 21, 2004 – ANZ Mannum (The first bank)

It’s Friday, 11.30am at the ANZ Bank at Mannum in the Murray River region of South Australia.

Parsons walks in wearing a black balaclava and dark sunglasses and carries a green canvas bag.

He pulls out a rifle from the bag and begins.

He demands the bank tellers hand over $100 notes, $50 notes, and then $20 notes and $10 notes.

He steals $15,000 from the bank, his first hit in what will become a notorious 10-year spree.

A traumatised teller, speaking years later, said after the robbery she would always look behind her and listen out for his voice.

July 26, 2004 – ANZ Lobethal

It’s Monday just before midday.

Parsons smashes in the glass of the bank door with the butt of his gun.

Three tellers are working at the branch and he demands money from the draws and the safe.

“Do as you are told and you will not get hurt,” he tells them.

He makes them sit on the floor as he makes his escape.

A 12-year-old girl sees him riding away on a bicycle, still wearing a balaclava.

A woman at the bank said she feared for her daughter in that terrible moment, who was at a school next door to the bank.

Another said she prayed she would be safe as she crouched on the floor.

Parsons stole $25,500 from the Lobethal hit.

Supplied Editorial =?UTF-8?Q?CCTV_shot_of_=E2=80=98Bicycle_Bandit=E2=80=99_with_an_SKK_7=2E62_r?=\t=?UTF-8?Q?iffle=2E_Picture=3A_supplied?=
A CCTV shot of Parsons with his SKK 7.62 rifle. Picture: Supplied

March 17, 2005 – Bank SA Blackwood

It’s 11.30am on a Thursday.

A teller sees him approach.

He throws a green canvas bag across the counter, points his gun at the teller and demands the money.

But the staff are quick to act and activate security screens.

At the moment the screens are going up, a teller fears the screens might cause the gun to discharge and she might die.

Parsons leaves empty-handed.

September 19, 2005 – Bank SA Mt Pleasant

Parsons will rob this branch on three occasions.

The first time is September 19, a Monday, at 2.09pm.

He goes in through the front door, pulling on a balaclava as he enters.

He pulls his rifle out of his bag, points it at a man and tells him to lay down, which the man does.

He then points it at two tellers and says: “put all the money in the bag”.

They stuff money into the bag and he exits, stealing more $45,700.

Kym Parsons wears his signature black balaclava during one of his robberies. Picture: Supplied
Kym Parsons wears his signature black balaclava during one of his robberies. Picture: Supplied

April 21, 2006 – Bank SA Tanunda

Parsons walks in, pulls out a firearm and approaches a teller.

He tells her to give him all the money, including foreign currencies.

He empties the tills, then takes the teller to the strongroom.

She grabs the cash and he forces her to put it inside his bag.

Two tellers lie on the ground as he makes his escape.

He steals more than $41,000.

Later, one of the tellers told the court she would cry on Sundays at the thought of going back to work.

She was diagnosed with PTSD.

Another victim said she suffered nightmares that someone would shoot her.

She said she wasn’t the same wife or mother after the robbery.

December 14, 2006 – ANZ Bank Yankalilla

It’s a Thursday, 1.35pm.

A teller is taking lunch in a staffroom when she hears yelling.

Parsons is at the counter, pointing his gun at a teller.

He yells at her to come out of the lunch room.

“I want all the money and I want it now,” he says.

He jumps over the counter.

He tells a male employee to get on the ground.

He asks two tellers to get the money from the safe.

They tell him the safe has a five-minute delay.

He waits 15 seconds and then leaves.

He doesn’t get any money from the safe and leaves with a comparatively small haul: $8300.

Later, one of the victims said having a gun pointed right at her “stays with you forever”.

SA Police found weapons at the home of Parsons when they arrested him. Picture: SA Police
SA Police found weapons at the home of Parsons when they arrested him. Picture: SA Police

July 26, 2007 – Bank SA Mt Pleasant

It’s Thursday at 11.35am.

Parsons trades his characteristic black balaclava for a motorcycle helmet to disguise his face.

He walks through the front door and puts a bag on the counter and removes a firearm from it.

“This is a hold up, give me all your money,” he says.

An elderly lady enters the bank and he tells her to sit in a corner and stay there.

A man comes into the branch and Parsons points the gun at him and makes him kneel on the ground.

He tells the bank employees to “hurry up” and brandishes the gun at them.

He forces them to open the safe and they do so.

He tells them to stuff all the money into his bag.

He warns them he will shoot anyone who tries to follow him.

He steals more than $31,000.

September 14, 2007 – ANZ Bank Yankalilla

It’s Friday at 1.48pm

It’s the second time Parsons will rob the ANZ Yankalilla branch.

He says: “Hurry up or there will be blood on the floor.

“Didn’t have a very good holiday last time I was there.”

There is a five minute delay on the safe but this time he is prepared to wait.

He makes off with about $44,000.

Parsons, Bicycle Bandit
Kym Allen Parsons, a former police officer, was revealed as the Bicycle Bandit. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes

June 27, 2008 – ANZ Bank Balaklava (The cop and the blood)

This bank, hit on a Friday at 11.40am, would lead in part to Parsons’ downfall.

Parsons is armed and wearing a balaclava and demanding money from the tellers.

“What’s this, what’s this about?” one teller says in confusion.

Parsons demands money from the tills and the tellers comply

A bank manager comes out, hands in air.

Parsons says: “don’t mess with me”.

Then, a police motorcycle pulls up to the footpath and stops on a corner, just outside the bank.

A police officer steps and asks if everything is alright.

Parsons confronts him with a firearm and forces the policeman to retreat outside the door.

Then Parsons bails, leaving out of the bank’s rear exit.

He climbs over a fence to make his escape, but cuts himself and leaves a trace of blood.

The court heard DNA evidence gleaned from the fence formed a crucial part of the brief against Parsons and helped lead to his arrest.

“The police officer was forced to make a choice that day, as he too was armed” Justice McDonald said.

“It was a choice to shoot, and potentially injure or kill an innocent bystander, or to not shoot.

“He chose not to shoot. It is a choice that he has had to live with for the rest of his life.

“I hope that has become easier in the knowledge that his conduct resulted in you taking a route out the back door that has ultimately led to evidence that has been a crucial part in identifying you as the person responsible for these crimes.”

Parsons steals more than $37,700.

Parsons originally pleaded not guilty to his crimes. Picture: NewsWire

June 26, 2009 – Bank SA Willunga

It’s Friday at 11.15am.

Parsons bangs the butt of his gun against the screen door of the bank.

He demands access to security door.

He directs the bank manager to the strongroom.

A little girl is in the bank, watching the horrific robbery, and starts to cry and scream.

Parsons takes money from the strongroom and tills, making off with just under $47,000.

A worker at the bank later told the court her career would be divided into before-and-after the robbery.

After the event, she suffered panic attacks every time she would go into the branch.

September 4, 2014 – Bank SA Mt Pleasant

It’s five years later.

Supreme Court Justice Sandi McDonald would later say there was “no explanation” for why Parsons would appear to cease his offending before suddenly hitting another bank out of the blue.

Parsons is in the bank and he says: “give me all the money”.

A teller presses the screen activation button and a screen shoots up.

Parsons responds by firing three shots at the staff access door.

A teller drops to the ground.

She sees his boots in front of her face.

He tells her to get up off the floor and makes her remove money from various draws and safes.

He steals more than $62,000.

Operation Coy

Parsons was sentenced for his crimes on June 24, 2024. Picture: NewsWire / Naomi Jellicoe

The police launched Operation Coy in 2004 to catch the man terrorising so many.

It looked as though he might have gotten away with it, but then on October 13, 2023, detectives from South Australia Police Serious and Organised Crime Branch apprehended the bicycle bandit.

“Over the course of a decade, it is alleged this person committed 10 significant bank robberies, stealing substantial amounts of cash,” Detective Superintendent Billy Thompson said.

“Police identified connections between the robberies early in the investigation and established Operation Coy.

“Since that time detectives attached to Operation Coy have been painstaking in their investigations, seizing on every opportunity to advance the investigation and identify a suspect.

“The arrest on Friday is a direct result of all the collective work over the last 19 years.

“This investigation is a credit to all those involved and shows that SAPOL will be relentless in our search for the truth.”

‘You saw the terror in their eyes’

Parsons originally pleaded not guilty to the crimes, before turning suddenly to admit to them on June 17 this year.

By this time, cancer had corroded his brain and bones and it is thought he had only days or weeks left to live.

On June 24, he was finally sentenced for his crimes at the South Australia Supreme Court.

Parsons sat silently in the dock, appearing via videolink from the remand centre.

His victims packed the courtroom, alongside detectives, legal representatives and reporters.

Justice McDonald told Parsons his conduct was “morally reprehensible”.

“On the first day at the ANZ Bank, in May 2004, you saw the terror in your victims’ eyes, and yet you went back and repeated that conduct, over and over again,” she said.

Bicycle Bandit victim Rose Lindner speaks to media after attending the sentencing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Mark Brake

Justice McDonald said it was an “extraordinary feature” of his offending that he had returned to the same targets on multiple occasions.

“No doubt realising that maybe the same staff were working there, staff who would be retraumatised by your conduct.”

The court heard Parsons’ family were not aware of his crimes, and Justice McDonald said they too were victims.

Justice McDonald also said she could see “no clear explanation” for the crimes.

Justice McDonald sentenced Parsons to 35 years in prison with a non-parole period of 28 years.

“In sentencing you, what is important is that there is a public denunciation of your conduct,” she said.

She said she could see “no real explanation” for his crimes, but accepted his guilty plea was driven by “remorse”.

“You have made a choice, to attempt in some way, to atone for your behaviour in the plea of guilty.

“You have attempted to give your victims some answers, some closure, in circumstances in which, in all likelihood, you would have passed away long before there was any real prospect of a trial taking place.”

Parsons was scheduled to stand trial for his crimes in February 2025 before his guilty plea.

The twist ending

Parsons would not serve out his sentence. He would be dead less than two days later.

Parsons, so close to death, had a legal right to request access to a voluntary assisted dying kit.

SA Health granted him access to VAD before his guilty plea and sentence, but would not reveal details about his case.

“We do not comment on individual applications made for a VAD permit to protect patient confidentiality,” an SA Health spokeswoman told NewsWire.

“Legislated eligibility criteria must be met to access the program, including having an advanced terminal illness.”

South Australia legalised the controversial procedure, which permits someone to take their own life after meeting a set of eligibility criteria, in 2021.

To be eligible, two independent doctors must assess a patient to have a terminal condition with less than six months left to live.

There are no prohibitions on prisoners accessing the procedure.

Health Minister Chris Picton, speaking several weeks ago, said he had asked the state’s VAD board to review the law in light of the Parsons case.

“We have a VAD Review Board in place to monitor the laws and provide advice,” he said.

“I will ask the Board to consider this issue as part of its ongoing review of the operation of the program.”

Parsons was sentenced on Monday, and then transferred to a hospital facility near Flinders Medical Centre on Tuesday.

NewsWire confirmed Parsons died at 12.15pm on Wednesday at the facility.

He was 73 years old.