Thursday, November 1, 2012

He fled on a what?

When I spent a summer as an extern for one of the greatest judges of all time, I got to see a few bank robbers get sentenced.  I came away with the conclusion that trying to rob a bank is one of the stupidest things one could do.

Why?  First, the possible prison sentences for bank robbery are really, really long.  So, if you get caught, you are going to be in prison a long time.

You might think, "yes, but only if I get caught."  That leads to my second point: you will get caught.  There used to be a time when people like John Dillinger or Pretty Boy Floyd could get away with robbing banks (although each was eventually killed while evading the authorities—discuss amongst yourselves whether that counts as getting away with it).  That was because technology in the form of better cars and the "Tommy Gun" gave the bank robber an advantage over the banks.  This was especially true in the small town banks that Mr. Dillinger and Mr. Floyd preferred to rob. 

However, in the 21st century, the banks and police have the advantage.  There are cameras in the bank photographing everyone who enters.  There are silent alarms that a bank teller can press to alert the police that a robbery is in progress.  There are dye packs and GPS tracking devices that the bank teller can slip into the bag of money to allow the authorities to mark the robber (with the dye) and track them (with the GPS unit). 

Want further proof that people who rob banks are either extremely desperate or pretty stupid?  Consider the case of Brady Johnson.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story of Mr. Johnson's sentencing in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.  Judge Donovan Frank sentenced Mr. Johnson to 156 months, i.e., 13 years, for robbing a bank of $3,800.  Thirteen years is 113,568 hours.  If we divide 3,800 by 113,568, we could say that Mr. Johnson is paying back the money he robbed at a rate of 's time 3.3 cents per hour.

Besides being a bad return on the investment, anything else that might suggest that the bank robbery was poorly planned?  Yes, it turns out that Mr. Johnson did not have a getaway car lined up.  Instead, Mr. Johnson attempted to flea on Metro Transit bus.  In case there is any confusion, Mr. Johnson did not steal a bus.  He went to the bus stop and got on the bus!  Thanks to the combination of silent alarm and GPS monitor, Mr. Johnson had made it about six blocks when police pulled the bus over.

The Gillette Torvik blog does not want its Reader(s)™ to commit crimes.  But if that is too much to ask, how about everyone agreeing not to rob banks? 

What do you think Mr. Torvik?  As a general rule are bank robbers the stupidest type of criminal, or is there a better contender?

Finally, speaking of Pretty Boy Floyd, here is this:

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