Tuesday, April 23, 2024

SATURDAY’S CHILD: Money in the bank


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THE JOKES RAN thick and fast.

“One thing,” my friend John said, “if you’re going to rob a bank you have to keep cool. Don’t feel cocky.”

Josh added the usual Confucius ending, “Well, maybe he had a hole in his pocket.

He could do that all day. Feel cocky, I mean.” “Yeah,” John, playing the straight man, said, “Other thing is think, plan and then plan again. Don’t go off half-cocked.” “Is there anything like whole-cocked?

Seventy-five per cent cocked? Full cocked?”

Josh chimed in again. “Would you say,” I asked, “that overconfidence is being too cocksure?”

What caused this battle to rule the rooster roost?

A bank robber.

It started when Josh told us there was a story on the Internet with the headline Man Robs Bank Using Sex Toy Disguised As Bomb, Police Say.

Without reading the rest of the story, all of us started mouthing off. “Stupid (five letter word for a small puncture by a pointed object),” John exclaimed in mock disgust. “Dildo Baggins,” Josh quipped. “Well,” said I, “there was once an English punk rock band named the Sex Pistols. He could have been one of them.

“He could play for spurs,” I added. “To attempt a robbery with a sex toy makes you a gamecock.”

Josh went back to the online article, “We’ve got it all wrong,” he confessed and started to read aloud. “It’s a story that’s getting a lot of buzz,” he said. “Batteries included.”

The report continued: “A bomb squad blew up a briefcase and other suspicious items in a Pittsburgh man’s car Monday after he robbed a bank, police said.”

John read: “Aaron Stein, 35, faces a preliminary hearing June 25 in Allegheny County Magisterial District Court on nine felony counts, including aggravated assault, robbery, threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and the unusual charge of possessing a facsimile weapon of mass destruction, according to court documents.” The story climaxed with the revelation that the facsimile WMD was a vibrator (hence the “buzz”).

The backstory was that Stein was arrested after a PNC Bank in the Pittsburgh suburb of Crafton was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money. Crafton Police Chief, Mark Sumpter, told the media that Stein “stated he had a bomb, showed the teller wires hanging out from his shirt and demanded cash”.

The robber drove off in a white Toyota, which was pulled over on a ramp to northbound Interstate 79 by Robinson Township police. Officers found money in a garbage bag, and beneath the front passenger

seat they found the device Stein is accused of having used in the bank robbery – “a makeshift box he made out of a box, black tape, vibrator and cellphone,” Sumpter said.

A bomb squad dog checked the device and a briefcase that officers found in the car. Both were detonated as a precaution.

“If Stein was sensitive he would have felt the bad vibes and left the bank alone,” John said. Lost in thought, I said nothing. If a vibrator is a WMD then our whole sense of values needs a shake-up.

Unsophisticated and unprofessional

Stein was actually an intellectual genius compared to some other bank robbers. In fact, the FBI is quoted as saying that most modern-day bank robberies are “unsophisticated and unprofessional crimes” committed by young male repeat offenders who apparently don’t know the first thing about their business and that in spite of the widespread use of surveillance cameras, 76 per cent of bank robbers use no disguise, 86 per cent never study the bank before robbing it, and 95 per cent make no long-range plans for concealing the money.

A website named laughbreak.com offers ten rules for bank robbers. The first is to pick the right bank. One man in California tried to hold up a bank that was out of business and out of cash.

The second rule is go to the right teller. A teller tracked down a bandit after he held her up and when he went into a restaurant she had him arrested.

Many robbers broke rule number three – Don’t sign your demand note with your own name.

The fourth is simple: beware of dangerous vegetables. A man tried to hold up a New York bank with a zucchini. Witnesses said he was as cool as a cucumber. The police captured him and threw him into a van with about 20 other prisoners. He complained of being squashed.

The other rules include that you should avoid being fussy; should not advertise, like the robbers who tried to create a diversion by throwing money out of their car window; should take right turns only (unlike the thieves who took a wrong turn and ended up in an air force base); should provide your own transportation (instead of taking the teller’s car); should not stuff the cash in your pockets since the dye packs can explode. It is a case of dyeing by your own hand.

•Tony Deyal was last seen talking about a deaf bank robber who did not hear the alarm when it was switched on by a teller and after being arrested sued the bank for exploiting his disability.


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