Who Is the ‘Piggyback Bandit’ and Why Is He Acting So Creepy at High School Sporting Events?
There is a short, 240-pound man who will show up at high school sporting events, do things on the sidelines to help the team, then talk someone into giving him a piggyback ride and leave. No, it's not a joke.
He started this practice in 2008 on the West Coast, but continues it to this day and recently turned up in North Dakota.
The “Piggyback Bandit,” as he is known, is actually 28-year-old Sherwin Shayegan of Bothell, WA. Since last fall, he started heading east with his antics, showing up in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. He prefers to attend basketball games, but has also been spotted at hockey, soccer and football games.
When he showed up at Century High in North Dakota dressed in a basketball jersey and shorts, the team thought he was a fan from the opposing school. According to activities director Jim Haussler, “He helped lay out uniforms, got water. He even gave a couple of kids shoulder massages. Creepy stuff like that.”
At the end of the game, during the winning team’s celebration, he walked on the court and asked for a piggyback ride. One of the team members actually did him the favor and there was no further incident. "He makes himself appear as if he's limited or handicapped. I think he plays an empathy card, so to speak," Haussler said. "We didn't realize what we were dealing with until several days later."
He will ask for piggyback rides, offer to pay for them or just spring them on an unsuspecting student. He has posed as a student getting interviews for a term paper, acted as a team manager and just tried to blend in, always to get the piggyback ride at the end. However, nobody knows why.
When Shayegan was reached by phone he said he would prefer not to comment until he had spoken with an attorney. To date, he has a lengthy criminal record in Washington and he has been banned from events at high schools in Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.