'It does look like me!'
The familiar name started being tossed around soon after Medford police shared surveillance photos of a Monday bank robbery suspect on its Facebook page.
"Looks like Mike Rowe from 'Dirty Jobs,' " one person posted.
"Mike Rowe, on his dirtiest job yet," wrote another.
For TV novices, Rowe is best known for his gig as the host of "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery Channel. He's also worn writer, producer, narrator and spokesman hats, and is currently producing the show "Someone's Gotta Do It" on CNN, according to his website. His dirty jobs have taken him to swamps, sewers, oil derricks, coal mines and crab boats. But never banks.
Still, plenty of Facebook commenters couldn't help but notice the bank robber's resemblance to the TV star. Word quickly got back to Rowe. In a telephone interview Wednesday, Rowe said he first found out from fans on social media. He clicked through to the Medford Police Department's Facebook page to see what all the commotion was about while in an airport waiting for a plane.
"I just laughed out loud," Rowe said. "It does look like me!"
The robbery happened at 4:45 p.m. Monday at the Chase Bank on Stewart Avenue and Barnett Road. A suspect walked in, demanded cash from a teller and walked out. Cameras caught the deed, and Medford police shared the photos on social media within 20 minutes of the incident. That's when Rowe's name started getting circulated.
Even Medford police got in on the joke: "Thanks to you guys, we issued an arrest warrant for Mike Rowe from the TV show, 'Dirty Jobs.' But in case it's not him, keep your eye out and keep the tips coming."
Rowe decided he'd better set the record straight.
"It was ridiculous, but I had to say something," he said, laughing.
In a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post written Wednesday morning, Rowe said that while the suspect dresses and even looks kind of like him, he's just a doppelganger who was several states away when it happened.
"True, I am often attired in a sweatshirt and ball cap, and yes, I do share a certain resemblance with the culprit," Rowe's post said. "I've also been spotted in Medford on more than one occasion (a lovely town by any standard)."
The problems are mainly with the real suspect's reported height: 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, "small to medium build," according to Medford police.
"The last time I was (that height) I was in the 6th grade," Rowe's post said. "And the 'small to medium' ship sailed some time ago."
P.S., he claims he was in Kansas when this all went down.
Later in his post, Rowe offered help to detectives, providing some possible insights into the real suspect's motives.
"I see that many Medfordites are wondering why a guy would rob a bank without some sort of disguise, knowing full-well he’d be photographed. This is an excellent question," Rowe wrote. "The consensus seems to be because he’s an idiot, and while that’s quite possibly true, he still appears to be on the loose, a fact not consistent with general idiocy."
The post even offered an advanced Sherlockian theory.
"What if the thief was not an idiot, but a clever person of below average height wearing a Mike Rowe mask?" Rowe wrote. "Crazy as it sounds, these masks exist. I don’t know where people get them, but a couple of years ago, I ran into a woman at a Halloween party who was wearing my face, and I don’t mind telling you it scared the hell out of me."
Medford police say it's back to the drawing board.
"This is a real bummer, but as we say, 'It's just as important to free innocent people from suspicion as to identify guilty parties,' " its post read.
Lt. Mike Budreau, who wrote the Facebook post, said he first heard about Rowe's response while doing a local radio show Wednesday morning.
"I about fell out of my chair," Budreau said. "I’m thinking the worst: 'He doesn’t realize we’re joking. I've got to go fix this.' I’m glad it was just the opposite.
"My first thought is: 'Oh, no. This was a joke.' The last thing I wanted to do is upset the real Mike Rowe."
It's not the first case of mistaken identity for Rowe stemming from an Oregon law enforcement agency. The public information officer for Beaverton police shares his name, and "Dirty Jobs" Rowe would get Google alerts every time Beaverton Rowe was mentioned in stories online.
"This is such a hot mess of fun weirdness," Rowe said.
Regarding the real suspect, Budreau said police are checking dozens of names called in by tipsters.
For now, at least one of those names seems to have been crossed off the list, but Rowe's still watching the case with interest. And maybe a grin.
"If you can't laugh at this stuff, then the joke's on you," Rowe said.