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.
We’ve been talking about bank robbery for the last few weeks, discussing some of the pros and cons (including the likelihood you’ll go to Con College). Last time around we looked at some of the defensive measures banks have in place to safeguard their cash (most of which can be overcome simply by asking—yes, it’s just that easy). Now it’s time to look at some of the offensive and defensive measures employed by bank robbers. There are quite a few options but today we’ll cover the basic ones used.
When it comes to offensive options, people traditionally think of a weapon of some sort, typically a handgun but also including bladed weapons or even bombs. As mentioned in “Bank Robbery Basics: Part One” all you need is a note to get the money (aka the demand note). The mere mention of a gun (or other weapon) will get you additional charges (and worse, additional time). That’s why robbers who note they have a gun in their demand note are amateurs, deranged, or high. Displaying a weapon or discharging one will only add to your time. Even if you decide to go into a bank armed, you’d never want to display the weapon unless you were forced to use it. And yes, it is true that displaying a toy weapon will get you a weapons charge.
While I talk about my particular bank robbery methods in my prison memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Robbery): How an Attorney Survived Prison, here’s a condensed version. At the time of my robbery, I had my pistol permit and owned several handguns. I also owned a bulletproof vest with an additional armored chest plate. One day I stopped at a store for paintball enthusiasts and picked up flashbang devices (obviously not the ones used by law enforcement, but ones capable of making a loud noise) and smoke grenades. Theoretically speaking, I had them in the event of pursuit by police or a confrontation exiting the bank. Thankfully, I never used them but had I possessed them during the bank robberies, I would have faced charges for at the very least possession of a firearm, using body armor during a crime, and possible charges for possession of explosive devices. Chances are I’d be eligible for release around the Tricentennial.
My attorney told me that there is a mandatory five-year sentence in the federal criminal justice system (which nearly always prosecutes bank robberies) or using a firearm. The sentence would run consecutive to my bank robbery sentence which means if I had my original sentence of 39 months, they’d add 60 months (10 years) to it for each bank robbery. That means I would have had to do ten years in addition to my original sentence and chances are, I wouldn’t have received a light sentence of 39 months. He also discussed potential penalties for possession of explosive devices (flashbang grenades and smoke bombs). Just imagine if I had them and used them?
What about defensive measures? As I mentioned, a person can wear body armor during a robbery in case Citizen Hero decides to shoot you (hopefully in the chest) during the robbery. No matter what the vendor tells you, body armor is heavy and uncomfortable to wear. I had a vest made to be worn under a suit and it was still bulky. Furthermore, it has to be custom made for you or there will be a number of vulnerable spots in it. Common sense tells you there are still a number of vulnerable spots that a vest won’t protect you against too. As you may know, bulletproof vests typically won’t protect you from bladed weapons (although there are hybrids available).
There are also the defensive options of disguise, an important element in effective bank robberies, but one which is often ignored. It’s important enough that I’m going to devote an entire blog to it in the near future but as I’m sure you realize, it’s much easier to pull off a bank robbery if no one can identify you.
Like anything in life, people have experimented with things and taken offensive and defensive capabilities to the next level. Next time around I’m going to talk about one of the most notorious bank robberies in modern history and the insane measures the robbers employed. You may have heard about it but you won’t believe the details.
Once again, as with any crime, it’s on you and here, I’m only sharing my personal experience (which as I mentioned earlier happened a decade ago). 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 problem in several prison systems and it could start with you.
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