The Cop Column
December, 2002

Robbers Aren't the Brightest

Criminals in general are not the most brilliant people. "Stupid Crook" stories are popular material for books, magazine articles, and late-night TV talk. I doubt we'll ever run short of new material in this category... and we seldom have to look very far. The incidents in this item are all from Okaloosa County in recent years.

Bank Robbers haven't had much success in our area. It seems they almost always get caught, often thanks to ordinary citizens.

One robber, for example, crafted what he thought would be a sure-fire escape... onto an Air Force Base. Since his pickup had a base sticker, he figured he could rob a bank near the base, then get onto Hurlburt Field and change clothes at the Base Gym. What he didn't figure into his plan was an exploding dye pack. The robber didn't get drenched in red dye because he was smart enough to stash the loot in his briefcase. To get on the base and make good his escape, though, he had to toss the briefcase with the smoking dye pack... and all the money... out the window and onto Highway 98. The robber continued onto the base, a secure facility where all exits can be sealed in a matter of seconds. The next car behind him at the gate was an alert citizen who told the Security Police about the briefcase with red smoke. The robber was in custody minutes later.

On two occasions, we've had bank robberies reported before they happened. On Racetrack Road, a citizen with a cellular phone saw a man with a ski mask outside a bank. 9-1-1 on the phone was quicker than the mask over the head; Deputies were waiting the robber as he exited the bank. Another robber targeted a bank near his home... which happened to also be near the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Investigations Division office. Lunch time of payday was not a good time for this robber, who was toting a BB rifle as he literally stumbled against an unmarked cop car at the drive through window before he even got inside the bank.