Bizarre Bank Robberies of 2008

Bad Times Bring Out Really Bad Would-be Thieves Elsewhere you've read about the major news, newsmakers and security breaches of 2008. Here's a light-hearted look at some of the more strange, bizarre and down-right dumb bank robberies of the past year.

Georgia Robber Caught Waiting For Getaway Bus

The bank robbery went bad, but the getaway was even worse for a Georgia woman in January. After a botched robbery on January 25, Channel Gaskin was caught by police at a nearby bus stop. Gaskin admitted that she robbed the Wachovia Bank in Sandy Springs, but ended up leaving the money behind after a dye pack exploded in the cash, covering her clothes in orange ink.

She changed clothes and left the clothes and money in a local gas station restroom. Police saw her waiting for the bus and arrested her. When asked how she thought she could get away on a public bus, she admitted that she had robbed another Wachovia branch on January 15 in DeKalb County and then hopped on a bus for her getaway.

- local news reports

Port Townsend, WA Bank Robber Nabbed

In a February 25 bank robbery in Port Townsend, WA it didn't take long for police to nab the suspect who had minutes before robbed the downtown Kitsap Bank branch.

The suspect was caught in the apartment building where he lives, a half-block from the bank. The robber was reported seen running from the bank by both the apartment building's manager and maintenance person, along with other witnesses. A local television crew was filming on the same street when the robbery went down, and while the cameras weren't rolling, police responded so quickly that they ran into witnesses pointing to the apartment building where the suspect had run into. Accused in the robbery was Bryant Nance, who lives in the apartment building. No one was injured in the robbery, where about $1,500 was taken. The first 911 call came in even before Nance left the bank. A sharp-eyed office worker walking on the street outside spotted the accused before he entered the bank, stopping to pull pantyhose over his head.

- Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader

NYPD Rookie Robs Bank

It was like a badly-scripted movie scene when one of New York Police Department's finest robbed a bank in Muhlenberg Township, PA in April. NYPD rookie officer Christian Torres threatened two tellers with a Glock pistol and robbed the bank of $113,000 before the bank opened on April 11. One of the tellers had tripped a silent alarm during the robbery, and police arrived just as Torres pulled out of the parking lot. After a brief chase, police pulled him over and he was identified as the robber. All of the money was recovered, and Torres was suspended without pay from the police department.

-Economics, Banking and Education

Robber Runs Away After Teller Asks for ID

Maybe he was all confused and didn't know if he wanted to rob the bank or just make a withdrawal, but one bank robber ran away with no money after a bungled attempt to rob the American Savings Bank in Honolulu, HI in April.

The robbery attempt started when a man walked up to teller in the bank on April 11 with a note demanding money, and then passed a second note for a withdrawal. The teller told police she took her time, and when the man handed her a withdrawal slip, she asked him for ID. The would-be robber got flustered and fled.

- local news sources

Robber Gives Teller Name and Address

A woman who is accused of robbing two banks in April gave law enforcement some vital clues to her identity when she handed a threatening note to a bank teller. The note had her name and address on the back of it. Law officers believe Maria Garcia wrote the hold-up note on the back of a completed food stamp application moments before she entered a Capital One Bank branch in McAllen, TX, and then made off with an undisclosed amount of money.

Officers tracked Garcia down less than two hours later to the address on the form. She was also linked to a similar robbery in April at another Capital One branch in Mission, TX.

- The Brownsville Herald

Well-Dressed Robber Meets Stubborn Teller

An Oakland, CA robber wasn't successful in getting money from a teller at the Bank of The West branch on June 10. Armed only with a demand note, the well-dressed robber met his match when a teller stubbornly refused to give him any cash.

The dapper robber handed the branch teller a note that read "This is a robbery. I want $20,000."

The unidentified teller refused to hand over any money. The frustrated robber then fled with the note sans money. Police say it appeared the man was not an experienced bank robber.

- United Press International

Gun Beats Bomb in Bank Robbery

A hapless, would-be robber tried to hold up the Comerica Bank in Canton, OH on June 18 and ended up being turned over to police after a customer, armed with a pistol, confronted him.

The scene started at the bank opening, when Joseph Webster walked up to a teller and handed her a note that said he had a bomb strapped to his body. The quick-thinking teller hit the silent alarm and began filling a bag with $1 bills until Webster demanded bands of 50 and 100 dollar bills. A nearby teller saw what was happening and alerted a long-time customer, Nabil Fawzi, who then sprang into action, pulling a registered handgun out of his jacket. Webster replied he had a bomb, but Fawzi then forced the robber into a chair, holding him at gunpoint until police arrived. Webster was found not to have a bomb.

- WXYZ.com, an ABC-TV affiliate

Robber Writes Holdup Note On Own Personal Check

Patrick Johnson, 33, was captured pretty quickly after police noticed that the note he handed a teller demanding cash was written on the back of his own personal check.

The July 21 robbery of a Bank of America branch in Ocala, FL began as a pretty straightforward attempt. A man walked in, handed the teller a note, said he had a .45 caliber pistol and demanded money. The teller complied and gave the cash.

The robber also performed the same action at another Bank of America branch several hours later. The robber fled from the second robbery scene in a taxi, which police later found, with the robber still in it. Both times, Johnson had handed the teller the holdup note, and both were written on the back of his personal checks.

- WOFL.com, a Fox News affiliate

Robber Nabbed 10 Minutes After Caper

A man went through three tellers at a Wachovia branch in Dunedin, FL on September 21, before getting cash.

Gordon Richie, 55, allegedly hired a cab to take him to the bank, where he gave a teller a demand note, but the teller told him she was assigned to the drive-thru and had no access to cash. Richie went to a second teller who told him her window was closed. Finally, he gave his note to a third teller, and while she complied with his demand, other employees called 911. The robber then fled in the same cab he arrived in, but was spotted in the cab 10 minutes later and pulled over. Police recovered the demand note and the stolen money.

- Tampabays10.com, a CBS News affiliate

Bank Robber Gets Away on Inner Tube

A Monroe, WA Bank of America branch's armored car service was robbed on September 30. While the robbery of an armored truck isn't an unusual occurrence, the methods and actions of the robber were highly inventive and well-thought out.

Police say that the man who robbed the armored truck made his getaway on an inner tube on the Skykomish River. The robber sprayed the armored car driver with pepper spray and pulled a money bag out of his hands.

Bank employees say they first saw the robber outside the bank, holding a garden sprayer, wearing a surgical mask, wig and sunglasses. After the robbery, an employee of the bank gave chase, but the robber outran him and made it to the river and jumped on an inner tube. The bank did not disclose the amount of money that was stolen.

- Komonews.com

Bank Robber Complains Bank Had No Money

In a consumer-complaint twist, a would-be robber threatened to file an official complaint after he found that a Susquehanna Bank branch in Springettbury Township, PA had no cash on hand when he came to hold it up on November 14.

Local police say that Joseph Goetz, 48, tried to rob the bank branch shortly after it opened. After finding out the bank had no cash on hand to give him, Goetz fled the scene and vowed to file a complaint with the bank's managers, say police. Goetz was caught by a bank customer who had been using the bank's drive-thru and saw him fleeing. The bank customer followed Goetz and called police, who later arrested him on suspicion of attempting to commit a robbery.

- The York Daily Record

Bank Robber Left Photo ID Behind

One New York bank robber made several unauthorized withdrawals at banks in New York City, but left his photo ID and several other forms of identification behind, making identifying him easy. Cory L. Brown, 26, of Brooklyn, is charged with robbing two banks in late March.

Brown, a homeless man, had been staying in a shelter in Brooklyn. The two robberies netted about $3,800. The first robbery was at a Wachovia Bank branch in Manhattan. The second was at a Commerce Bank branch also in the city. After the second robbery, Brown stopped outside and changed clothes, leaving his wallet with his birth certificate, a welfare benefits card, his Social Security card, a homeless shelter ID card, and a pay stub with his name on it.

- The New York Times

Social-Engineering Bank Robbery

Two bank robberies in the Washington, D.C. area earlier this year are memorable because of the social engineering aspect to both of them.

In the first one, a man dressed as an armored truck employee with the company AT Systems walked into a BB& T bank in Wheaton, MD and was handed more than $500,000 in cash and walked out. It wasn't until the actual AT Systems employees arrived at the bank the next day that bank officials realized their mistake.

The second one happened when a man dressed as an employee of the security company Brink's walked into a Wachovia branch in downtown Washington and walked out with more than $350,000. The man had a badge and gun holster on his belt, says the FBI's Washington field office. The man told officials at the bank that he was filling in for the regular courier. Later that same day, when the real guard showed up, a bank official told him that someone had picked up the cash, D.C. police say. The guard returned to his office and told a supervisor that he did not make the pickup at the bank. The supervisor called a Wachovia bank manager, who in turn notified authorities. Police were called nearly 11 hours after the heist. A later twist in these two robberies, a teller at the Wheaton bank branch was arrested later in a wider conspiracy that connected both bank robberies. The conspirators were all arrested, and the money taken in both robberies was recovered.

- The Washington Post

ATM Robbery Uses Forklift

A December 16 ATM theft in Beaumont, TX has turned up one forklift, still running. Beaumont police arriving at a Wells Fargo branch in the early morning hours found an ATM missing and a forklift that was apparently used to remove the ATM at the scene, with its motor still running.

A white truck that was seen near the bank as the officers responded to the alarm was later stopped. Police found the missing ATM in the back of the truck. The 42-year-old Houston resident driving the truck has been charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and felony theft of the ATM. Police are still trying to figure out where the suspect got the forklift.

- KFDM.com, a CBS news affiliate

Bank Robber Robs Bank In Front of Cop

A bank robber in Dorchester, MA didn't look behind him earlier this year before passing a note to a teller at Mt. Washington Bank, demanding large bills and "no funny money."

An officer in uniform was standing right behind him. Police said Adam Grennan of Hull, MA was immediately arrested by the police officer who had been working a security detail at the bank. The officer, who had been in a back room watching surveillance cameras, saw Grennan when he walked in. The officer became suspicious because Grennan was wearing large white gloves, an oversized hooded parka and a scarf that covered his face.

- The Boston Globe

NJ Cross-Dressing Robber Caught

Designer clothes and sunglasses were the finishing touches of what law enforcement officers nicknamed the "Cross-Dressing Bank Robber" of New Jersey and Connecticut. A Jersey City, NJ man, Huy Trong Luong, 39, was arrested on May 5 after attempting to rob and flee a Commerce Bank branch in Chatham, NJ.

When Luong was arrested, police found in the getaway minivan a black wig, sunglasses, a black Dolce & Gabbana hat, a women's makeup kit and a black jacket, along with a hoax bomb made of Roman candles wrapped together, and a sum of cash.

During his interrogation with FBI agents, Luong also confessed to seven other robberies in New Jersey and Connecticut, where he took more than $38,000. Luong also admitted he used the same disguise for each robbery.

- MSNBC.com

'Waddling Bandit' Caught In Oregon

The FBI had been looking for a serial bank robber who was suspected of robbing 10 banks in Oregon and Washington over a three-year period. They finally solved the case and arrested the "Waddling Bandit," a 63-year-old Portland man who pled guilty in federal district court on August 5. Dante Peter Dapolonia pled guilty to the 10 bank robberies and admitted robbing another 20 banks during the same period. Law enforcement's profile showed the suspect was likely a diabetic gambler well into his golden years, stocky, white and walked with a distinctive side-to-side gait.

The robber had gotten away with more than $70,000 in the heists. Dapolonia will serve a 10-year prison sentence and pay restitution to the banks for their losses in the amount of $87,865.

- The Oregonian


About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.




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