Some parallel worlds have different time-flows, like the fabled dwelling-places of the elves: those who visit them under the hill for a night return to find that years have passed in this world. Perhaps it is the gate leading between the worlds which causes the alteration. If a gate were 'misaligned', the shift from '| |' to '| \' or '| /' as it were would lead to that difference, much as a light-beam split and bent by a prism ends up taking a longer path. There might even be a mathematical function linking degree of misalignment to alteration of time-rate.
There is a person who has a well-known reputation, probably involving something illegal. But this person is either very clever and crafty, or really like his or her privacy, for no one knows who this person actually is. As an added twist, perhaps this person is of an age that would noramlly be wildly inappropriate (say, a child is a much-feared bandit) or maybe not the expected gender or even race.