Rules for Bank Robbers
According to the FBI, most modern-day bank robberies are "unsophisticated
and unprofessional crimes," comitted by young male repeat offenders who
apparently don't know the first thing about their business. This information
was included in an interesting, amusing article titles "How Not to Rob a Bank,"
by Tim Clark, which appeared in the 1987 edition of The Old Farmers Almanac.
Clark reported that in spite of the widespread use of surveillance cameras,
76 percent of bank robbers use no disquise, 86 percent never study the bank
before robbing it, and 95 percent make no long-range plans for concealing the
loot. Thus, he offered this advice to would-be bank robbers, along with
examples of what can happen if the rules aren't followed:
- Pick the right bank. Clark advises that you don't follow the lead of the
fellow in Anaheim, Cal., who tried to hold up a bank that was no longer in
business and had no money. On the other hand, you don't want to be too
familiar with the bank. A California robber ran into his mother while making
his getaway. She turned him in.
- Approach the right teller. Granted, Clark says, this is harder to plan.
One teller in Springfield, Mass., followed the holdup man out of the bank and
down the street until she saw him go into a restaurant. She hailed a passing
police car, and the police picked him up. Another teller was given a holdup
note by a robber, and her father, who was next in line, wrestled the man to the
ground and sat on him until authorities arrived.
- Don't sign your demand note. Demand notes have been written on the back
of a subpoena issued in the name of a bank robber in Pittsburgh, on an envelope
bearing the name and address of another in Detriot, and in East Hartford,
Conn., on the back of a withdrawal slip giving the robber's signature and
- Beware of dangerous vegetables. A man in White Plains, N.Y., tried to
hold up a bank with a zucchini. The police captured him at his house, where he
showed them his "weapon."
- Avoid being fussy. A robber in Panorama City, Cal., gave a teller a note
saying, "I have a gun. Give me all your twenties in this envelope." The
teller said, "All I've got is two twenties." The robber took them and left.
- Don't advertise. A holdup man thought that if he smeared mercury ointment
on his face, it would make him invisible to the cameras. Actually, it
accentuated his features, giving authorities a much clearer picture. Bank
robbers in Minnesota and California tried to create a diversion by throwing
stolen money out of the windows of their cars. They succeeded only in drawing
attention to themselves.
- Take right turns only. Avoid the sad fate of the thieves in Florida who
took a wrong turn and ended up on the Homestead Air Force Base. They drove up
to a military police guardhouse and, thinking it was a toolbooth, offered the
security men money.
- Provide your own transportation. It is not clever to borrow the teller's
car, which she carefully described to police. This resulted in the most
quickly solved bank robbery in the history of Pittsfield, Mass.
- Don't be too sensitive. In these days of exploding dye packs, stuffing
the cash into your pants can lead to embarrassing stains, Clark points out,
not to mention severe burns in sensitive places--as bandits in San Diego and
Boston painfully discovered.
- Consider another line of work. One nervous Newport, R.I., robber, while
trying to stuff his ill-gotten gains into his shirt pocket, shot himself in
the head and died instantly. Then there was the case of the hopeful criminal
in Swansea, Mass., who, when the teller told him she had no money, fainted.
He was still unconscious when the police arrived.
- Avoid working with animals. It is a sad story to relate that one
bank robber brought his dog with him on a raid. It is surely to his
regret that he inadvertantly left the unfortunate animal at the scene
of the crime. When the police arrived, it was a simple matter to
release the woeful creature, shout 'Home, boy!' and follow the dog
to his masters home, where the gentleman in question was examining
his ill-gotten gains.
- It is advisable to check the size of your intended entrance to the
building. This is to avoid the fate of one particular burglar, who
intending to rob a museum of it's artifacts, had selected a skylight
as his method of entrance. When he initially attempted to fit through
he found that he was unable to do so. In a stroke of genius he decided
to remove all his articles of clothing, and to drop them through the
skylight for retrieval once he had made his entrance. Having done this
he then tried once again, but found that he was still unable to fit
through the skylight, and this time was also unable to extricate his
body from said hole. The police, arriving some hours later, were able
to arrest the would-be criminal with very little difficulty.
- It is also advisable to check the identity of the person that you
are intending to rob. One burglar who omitted to do this, was surprised
to discover an old teacher of his, quivering in her bed at the thought
of a thief loose in the house. Overcome with fond memories of his time
at school, he approached the bed, and kissed his ex-teacher on the
forehead, saying "You were always kind to me". It did not strain the
energies of the police force to discover the identity of the robber,
and haul him in.
- It is a bad idea to play with anything that you find in the house.
One would-be crook's days were numbered when, whilst investigating the
photographic apparatus in a particular house, became fascinated by a
new Instamatic camera. In a move worthy of high praise, he managed to
take a photograph of himself with it, and then, to prove himself
worthy to be mentioned in this list, he fled the house, leaving the
photograph behind. It did not take too long for his arrest to occur.
- It is an equally bad idea to fall in love with the owner of the
property that you intend to burgle. One such gentleman was wandering
through the house that he was robbing, when he entered the bedroom,
to find a pretty, if slightly macho, lady already in the room.
It was, for the burglar, a case of love at first sight. Imagine then
his surprise, when the lady, in response to his amorous advances,
felled him with two well-aimed blows, and then held him in a half-nelson
until the arrival of the officers of the law. Imagine his face when he
discovered that the lady in question had, before her sex-change took
place, been employed as a bricklayer.
- Love is not however the only temptation lying in wait in a house.
Consider, if you will, the case of one particular burglar who, believing
that the house in question was currently unoccupied, was delighted to
discover a prized grand piano among the possessions of the house's owners.
Our hero carved himself a niche in the annals of history by settling down
to play the aforementioned instrument. It was a simple matter for the
police, alerted by the owner of the house, who was asleep upstairs until
the piano recital commenced, to catch the crook unawares.
- It is generally considered wise to get a full days sleep before any
nighttime visits to other peoples homes. The report in question involves
a burglar who clearly failed to heed this advice, and who was found by
a group of slightly incredulous police officers, asleep on the bed in the
spare room of the house. As can be imagined, apprehending this particular
criminal wasn't too tricky, and his thoughts upon awakening can only be
- Certain types of people are known as "klutzes" in the current
colloquial English, due to their unfortunate habit of finding the
one thing in an area that is almost certain to cause damage to something
else. These people do not, as a general rule, make particularly good
criminals. One example of this rule is a young man who, in the process
of burgling a house, managed to shoot himself in the foot with an
antique shotgun, which could not, in all fairness be described as his.
Most people would, in this situation, exit from the property in search
of medical attention. Instead the young man in question proved himself
worthy of being elevated to the lofty heights of the Not Terribly Good
fraternity, by phoning for an ambulance. The police, who were alerted
by a phone call from the house of their chief superintendent, were
quickly on the scene.
- Plan your getaway in case of emergencies, and make sure that the
route is CLEAR. Do not, as one group did, drive straight into the back
of a police van.
- Pick a suitable time for the crime. As an example of this, I ask you
to consider one aspiring shoplifter, who chose to make his big assault on
a shop during a convention of store detectives. The ease with which he was
captured is mind-boggling.
Back to the humour page
Pete's Home Page