Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for robbing banks. If you’re stupid enough to rob banks, chances are you’ll get thrown in prison for several years if you’re lucky—and the rest of your life if you do something like hurt someone. It should go without saying that this is not a viable life choice. No reset button here like GTA.
As I talked about last time, bank robbery is an attractive way of getting money for the criminally-minded individual. There’s the attraction of robbing an institution rather than an individual (although it’s still a crime and the robbery could impact those present such as a teller). There’s also less guilt as some individuals target banks due to banks’ various predatory practices ranging from red-lining to hidden fees. Sadly, robbing a bank doesn’t hurt the bank as the bank is protected by the FDIC (and you’ll have to pay the bank back). Nonetheless, some people target banks just because banks have a well-deserved bad reputation.
Traditionally, there are three ways to hit a bank. The first is the time-tested method of handing a note or ordering a teller to hand over some cash. A note is often used because it resembles a regular banking transaction. A second method is the takeover, where a person (usually persons) enters the bank wielding a weapon and tells everybody to get on the floor. This may look cool in films and TV, but it’s incredibly stupid as you’re adding a slew of charges for when you’ll get caught (and chances are, you’re going to get caught). Finally, there’s the modified takeover where a person manages to waylay a branch manager and get them to open the vault before the bank has opened up. There are modifications to these three methods, and I’ll discuss them in future blogs when I mention famous bank robberies.
The biggest drawback to robbing banks is that you don’t nab a lot of cash (when I robbed banks, the average take was around five thousand dollars, nothing to sneeze at but hardly the crime of the century), unless you loot the vault or you hit a bank where the tellers have a good amount of money. You’re going to have to move quickly if you decide to relieve all the tellers of their cash and you can’t do this if there are customers at the bank or waiting in the drive-through. Unlike robbing an individual teller, robbing all the tellers is going to make your crime known before you exit the bank. Even so, you’re unlikely to get anything substantial unless you’re in the vault. The problem with being in the vault (especially if you’re alone) is that every second counts. That decision to grab an extra stack of C-notes could be the difference between getting away before the police showing up and finding one or more squad cars waiting outside for you. As you can see, the name of the game is getting in and out of the bank quickly with as much cash as possible. Ideally, you don’t want to tip off anyone that you just robbed the bank, lengthening your opportunity to get away.
As easy as this may seem, there is always fuckery lurking about to trap you up, even before you exit the bank. During my time in Con College, I talked to several prolific bank robbers (I mention this in my prison memoir Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Robbery): How an Attorney Survived Prison) and they revealed a number of fascinating methods they robbed banks. I’ll discuss that next time as well as why U.S. banks are nonetheless easy targets. As always, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time and you certainly want to avoid prison right now as COVID-19 is likely going to reduce the overcrowding in several prison systems.