'Santa' robs US bank after handing out candy canes

A man dressed in a Santa mask has held up a US bank in festive style.

Memphis police said the thief initially appeared to be spreading Christmas cheer.

"At approximately 10:00am, a lone male wearing a Santa mask entered the Memphis City Employee Credit Union," police said in a statement.

"Once inside, the male handed candy canes to several employees and customers and wished them a merry Christmas."

The man then approached the teller and handed her a note demanding money, police said.

After obtaining the cash, the thief fled.

Police said no-one had been arrested over the incident and the investigation was ongoing.