Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Painfully Insecure Bank Robber

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
March 28 2013 12:12 PM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Painfully Insecure Bank Robber

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Name: Unidentified would-be bank robber

Crime: Attempted robbery.

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Fatal mistake: Mistaking his victim for his therapist.

The circumstances: If an aspiring criminal were to ask me for advice, I’d say that it’s important to act the part. (I’d also say that it’s important to wear gloves and a mask.) In crime, as in dating, confidence is everything. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never mugged anyone before: If you look real mean and talk real loud, you’re likely to come away with a wallet.

And so I really wish this poor dope had sought me out before trying and failing to rob a Scotiabank branch in Victoria, B.C. “A need for reassurance and approval was the ultimate downfall for a man now accused of robbing a Victoria bank,” writes Laura Baziuk on the website of Canadian radio station CKNW-AM. See, that’s the problem: You don’t become a bank robber because you want validation. You become a bank robber because you want money.

The thwarted thief, who reminds me of a Chris Ware protagonist, made three critical mistakes. First, instead of loudly and menacingly stating his demands, he mumbled such that the teller couldn’t hear him. Then, rather than recovering by cowing the teller into submission, he compounded his initial error by asking the teller how the robbery was going so far.

The answer, of course, was “very badly.” The robber got the message, and ran away, presumably to sob in some alley while cursing himself as stupid, stupid, stupid. As we all know, stupid is as stupid does, and he soon made his third and final stupid mistake of the day: He came back to the bank a bit later and peered through the windows to see how the investigation was going. The answer: “very well, now that you’re here.” He was arrested. Here’s hoping he makes some new friends in jail.

How he could have been a lot smarter: If you leave a bank in disgrace because your robbery attempt fails, don’t go back to the bank to try again. “Criminals always return to the scene of the crime” is not an imperative. It is a warning.

How he could have been a little smarter: All of his troubles could’ve been avoided if he would’ve just talked louder. Fun fact: Four out of five robberies fail because the culprits are low-talkers.

How he could have been a little dumber: “This is a robbery. Also, do you like me? Check one of these three boxes: Yes; No; I’m Calling The Police.”

How he could have been a lot dumber: “OK, give me all your money. Actually, I’m sorry. Here’s all of my money. And my gun. Wait, please don’t shoot me. I can get more money—wait, I’ll go to my ATM!”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): Very, very dumb. Aspiring criminals, I can’t stress this enough: Do not look to your victim for a pep talk, unless your victim is Knute Rockne. This guy was obviously not cut out for crime to begin with, and he would’ve been much better off finding another line of work, like “therapy patient” or “cringing emo kid.” I wish him well in all his future endeavors. 8 out of 10 for the painfully shy bank robber.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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