According to the FBI, most
modern-day bank robberies are
unprofessional crimes," committed 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
Clark reported that in
spite of the widespread use of surveillance cameras, 76 percent of bank robbers use no
disguise, 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:
1. 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.
2. Approach the right teller.
Granted, Clark says, this is harder to plan. One teller in Springfield, Mass., followed
the hold-up man out of the bank and down the street until she saw him go into a
She hailed a passing police car,
and the police picked him up. Another
teller was given a hold-up 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.
3. 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 Detroit,
and in East Hartford, Coon., on the back of a withdrawal slip giving the robber's
signature and account number.
4. 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."
5. 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.
6. Don't advertise. A hold-up
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
7. 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 tollbooth, offered the security men money.
8. 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
9. 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.
10. 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.