retired bank robber

I’m a retired bank robber. AMA!

In 2005-06, I studied and perfected the art of bank robbery. I never got caught. I still went to prison, however, because about five months after my last robbery I turned myself in and served three years and some change.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluechipstore/the-blue-chip-store
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO4VmA-P4kI
https://vimeo.com/79596722

Are you and your wife still together even after she found out about the robberies?

No. We divorced while I was in prison for personal reasons not related to my crimes.

Did she discover that you only went to prison to avoid changing diapers? Just kidding.

Lol.

Well, how did she take the whole robbery thing?

She thought it was crazy, but not totally unexpected either. I was a little wild back then.

What’s the most memorable thing that someone has said to you while you were bank robbing?

One teller skimped out on me and didn’t give me all I had asked for, and I told her, “You can do better than that.” She just shrugged — palms up like a little kid — and said, “That’s all I got.”

Pretty ballsy on her part.

And it probably was all she had.

It wasn’t. She was being a really brave idiot. She also pocketed a $100 bill for herself.

Needless to say, she got fired.

How would you know she pockets money for herself?

When my lawyer first brought all my paperwork to me, I noticed that the amount was $100 off for that particular bank. I told him I was 100% sure that they had the amount wrong. So he told the police, the police told the bank, the bank checked the video…

…and they saw her take it. Insane, huh?

Did you tell them they had the amount wrong specifically to get someone in trouble? If not, why?

I wouldn’t have guessed she took it. I was just particular about the facts being straight. If I was going to fess up to that shit, it was going to be perfect and accurate.

Would you have harmed someone if you found yourself in a position between that and getting caught?

That depends on the situation. If it was just some random guy trying to be a hero, I would have probably gone to any extreme necessary to get away because that’s a challenge. On the other hand, if it was a cop or a security guard of some sort, I would have probably let them win.

Probably.

So hang on, you were willing to put people to the sword to escape, but turned yourself in when you hung up your boots?

Yes.

My game. My rules.

Did anything ever not go as planned?

Yes. The last one I did.

The teller freaked out as soon as I turned to leave the bank. She started screaming “lock the doors, lock the doors” but I ignored it and just kept walking like nothing was happening. I got out before the doors were locked, but a guy walking into the bank seconds later already found them locked. He was pissed, of course, because it wasn’t closing time, and he thought he had gotten there too late. He obviously didn’t realize the guy who had just walked out of the bank and past him had just robbed the bank.

How many pounds of shit, would you say, were in your pants while walking out the door?

1.21 jiggawatts

Did you have a mentor of sorts that you learned from?

Only the Internet. I studied countless reports of other robberies that had gone wrong and people who were caught.

Did you have a community of bank robbers that you would talk to?

No. I never told anyone what I was doing. One of the main things I learned from research was that an overwhelming number of people are caught because they didn’t do it solo. So I never let anyone (not even my wife or best friend) know what I was doing.

If you could go back in time would you have still done it?

Yes. I still acknowledge what I’ve done, but the process and experience of going to prison and finding myself (as well as a purpose in life) has really made it all worth it, relatively speaking. It’s hard to regret something that has turned into something so good.

What do you do now for income?

I was working in the oil fields until recently. Now I stay at home with my boys, and I am trying to get a book published and turn that into some sort of career, if at all possible. I’ve been on a few shows, and people seem genuinely interested in hearing more, so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

Is the book about you robbing banks?

Yes. It’s about my entire life, but the bank stuff is a large part of it.

Did you ever actually feel guilty about anything you did? I just want to understand your reasoning–thanks!

I never felt guilty because I didn’t attacked or assaulted anyone. Under the circumstances, I was as nice as I could possibly be to the bank employees because I did feel a little sympathy for them.

I certainly don’t regret the experience of going to prison and finding myself.

Out of curiosity, did you ever feel that the concept of stealing money was wrong? I’ve heard some people argue that legal stealing is just protected stealing, so I wonder if your reason is similar.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as legal stealing. You either steal or you don’t. I’d be happy to respond to a specific scenario you’re talking about, but as a general rule, I don’t think it’s wrong if two people willingly enter a contract even if one side benefits more heavily than the other.

As for me, I think morality is very subjective. I wouldn’t steal from an individual person because I’m not comfortable with that. The banks, however, consider this kind of theft an acceptable loss, so that was okay with me being part of the loss that they consider acceptable.

Part of my process did begin with how poorly I thought rich people handled their money. I’d always thought, “If I was that rich, I could change the world instead of just piling up cash.” I don’t use that to make bank robbery “okay” but that’s what made it okay for me at the time.

So do you keep your personal money in a bank? If so – which bank?

Lmao.

Actually, yes. And they know about my criminal history because I went to high school with one of the girls that works at my bank.

I keep a minimal amount of money in the bank for obvious reasons — usually less than a thousand bucks or so. I actually think my account is pretty close to zero for now.

Bank of Texas. 🙂

How was the prison experience?

Shitty and awesome.

It was like dying, except without the funeral. I was removed from everyone else’s life just as much as they were removed from mine. Mail because the only way I connected with my family and friends.

Prison is lonely and depressing, but it’s also a great place to really work on yourself if that’s what you want to do. Most men and women waste that opportunity. Thankfully, I didn’t.

‘Work on yourself’ by doing what? Getting fit and stuff?

No. Figuring out what the fuck was wrong with my head that made it where i couldn’t function like normal people in society.

Did you carry a weapon? And what was prison like?

No. I strapped a hammer to my leg under my pants just below my knee in case I needed to break out of a locked door or something, but I never used a gun or anything like that.

Prison was like church camp without the girls or weird counselors. I played a lot of chess and read a lot of books. I also wrote a lot, of course. Mail is the highlight of anyone’s day in prison.

There are some pretty bad dudes there, but nobody really wants any trouble unless you just really fuck them over. There’s always trouble if you want it, but it’s pretty laid back most of the time. You learn the way of life pretty quick in there if you’re smart.

Why did the tellers give you the money if you had nothing to threaten them with?

Standard procedure at most banks.

What’s the average amount of money you made from a bank?

Not that much, honestly. Probably around $5k per bank.

What is the total amount you made before you were caught? Did you keep the money?

I wasn’t caught.

I paid it all back.

Can you discuss your MO?

Sure.

Walked in the bank and waited in line like a regular customer. Whichever teller was available to help me is the one I robbed. I simply walked up to them when it was my turn to be helped, and I told them — usually via handwritten instructions on an envelope — to give me their $50s and $100s.

Hm. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot. How much would one teller even carry?

In their top drawer, it was usually less than $10k. I probably averaged around $5k per bank. But it was pretty low risk that way, so that was cool with me.

Was there a threat involved? Or you just said “give me this money” and they did it?

No threat. I just told them what I wanted, and they complied. This is how it works in America because the amount of money a bank gives up ($5-$7k on average) per bank robbery is infinitely less than the amount of business they’d lose if shit got wild in a bank full of customers.

They just want to give you what you want and for you to get the hell out of their bank.

How much planing did you do before robbing a bank?

I researched for about five or six months prior to my first one. I studied mostly the things that people did to get caught, and I just tried to plan around those things. It’s hard to know how people get away since those details rarely make it to the news, but studying how people get caught was incredibly helpful in knowing what to avoid.

Once I did my first bank, very little planning was needed for subsequent banks. I never really scoped out a particularly location other than to make sure there was parking that was out of view from the bank.

What made you get into bank robbery and what made you turn yourself in?

Bank robbery is the real American Dream. We make movies about it, and as long as innocent people aren’t hurt or killed, our society loves bank robbers.

Also, it seemed like a worthy challenge. I thought it would be quite an accomplishment if I could solve the puzzle and figure out how to get away with it.

I always figured prison was in the cards for me — even before I was doing crime — so it made sense to turn myself in and get it over with, but most of all, I became a father and wanted to just do my time while my son was a baby instead of the cops accidentally figuring out who I was and taking me to jail when my son was older.

Could you walk us through the process?

Basic Outline:

  • Stand in line like a regular customer
  • Wait for the next available teller
  • Hand them an envelope and tell them to give me their $50s and $100s (usually this was written on the envelope rather than me verbally saying it)
  • Turning around and walking out like a regular customer

No gun. No threats. No Hollywood drama. No mask. No disguise.

Nothing.

Just a regular customer. In and out in the same amount of time as if I was making a deposit.

Did you ever get one of those ink cartridges that blew up on you and the money?

No dye packs. Nothing like that.

You said you met other bank robbers in prison… Did any offer to do a job with you? Did any share advice or how they did it?

I never entertained any ideas from guys in prison who wanted to get together on the outside and do more banks. I did just fine by myself when I was still doing it, but I had also decided to quit for a reason.

Most guys in prison all did it the same way. The walked in with a gun and tried to be Bonnie & Clyde. …which is how they ended up in prison.

I don’t get how you didn’t get caught. Did they not have cameras in the bank?

Of course they had cameras.

But then what? Nobody knew me. What good does it know only having a face and basic description?

I actually am a bank teller, and I can’t believe you weren’t caught on your first or second heist. Did the banks you robbed not have the double security doors?

I almost got caught in those doors on my last one. I got out within seconds of them locking them.

I was very fortunate.

Why did you only want $50 and $100s?

I don’t know about today, but back then all of the marked bills, dye packs, and tracking stuff was in $20s, so I definitely didn’t want those. And $1s, $5s, and $10s were such a small denomination that they wouldn’t add up to much anyway. It wasn’t worth the extra time for them to get everything out of their drawer.

Also, if someone else noticed the teller clearing out their drawer, it might look weird and trigger some sort of response. Getting out a bunch of $50s and $100s, however, seemed to be the quickest way and drew no attention from other tellers.

When you were robbing a bank was it intense or were you calm the entire time?

I was calm and controlled, but it was incredibly intense at the same time.

It’s like having sex while taking the SATs. You have to focus on both 100% even though that’s not totally possible, and that’s why it’s so rewarding when it works.

What made you want to do this AMA? Is it pride, warning?

I wrote a book, and a friend of mine suggested that I do an AMA on here because people apparently like this kind of shit. I wasn’t so sure, and I figured I had nothing to lose in coming on here to see what people would like to know.

Ultimately, my purpose is to just tell the better part of my story about how I’m not the guy I used to be and that it’s never too late to get your shit together and put your head on straight. I was a real piece of shit once upon a time, but I’m not anymore. I’m very happy with who I’ve become, and I’ll do anything possible to reach those who are walking down the path that I walked down a decade ago.

So if it’s just Q&A to a thousand people and I still reach that one person, then that’s good with me.

How do you feel about doing this as a medium now to educate people and answer questions? More or less how do you like the questions and how does it make you feel to answer them? Are you reminiscent?

I don’t like or dislike the questions as much as I enjoy the ability to put myself out there and perhaps cause a spark in someone else’s imagination to do something productive with their own shitty circumstances.

What did you do with the money that you robbed?

I used the majority of it for charitable stuff like helping people in need or donating to worthy causes. I gave quite a bit of money to a local charity that helps out the families of first responders who are killed in the line of duty.

You’re like Robin Hood, but not really.

I agree on the “not really” part. 🙂

But that was one of my nicknames in prison. I hated it.

How was it the first time? It imagine it would be pretty scary.

It was scary the first time I tried, but I left and didn’t do it. I returned the next day and wasn’t scared. It’s not really something you can do if you’re afraid. Fear gets in the way of clear thinking.

How did the police react when you turned yourself in?

The police were very professional. They sent the SWAT team to the hotel where I told them to come get me, so that was pretty shit-your-pants scary, but they didn’t fuck me up or anything. Once I was cuffed and cleared and all that crap, they all talked to me like I was a rock star or something. It was really strange. They asked “why” and all that stuff, but it wasn’t like the cop style of “why.” It was more like a fascinated curiosity.

Why did you turn yourself in?

I always figured prison was in the cards for me — even before I was doing crime — so it made sense to turn myself in and get it over with, but most of all, I became a father and wanted to just do my time while my son was a baby instead of the cops accidentally figuring out who I was and taking me to jail when my son was older.

Friend worked at a bank. She said if they ever get robbed, to look at the robbers shoes. They change their clothes, but hardly ever change shoes. Is that something you did?

No, I never worried about stuff like that because I was always long gone before the police got there anyway. And nobody ever saw what I drove because I would always park behind another building that you couldn’t see from the bank.

How many banks did you end up robbing?

I eventually stopped counting. I originally fessed up to one bank, but they didn’t believe me, so I gave them two more.

I did time for those three.

Was it just for the money or something more than that?

It was for everything but the money. It was fun, exciting, and addictive.

You say that you’re retired. But I know a guy who is looking to put together a crew for a major job. This is the one you’ve been dreaming of all these years. Are you up for one last job?

Lol, that’s funny. But no. That’s the kind of thing that’ll get you on the news (if you’re lucky enough to get away in the first place).

So even though I’m sure that’s a joke, I’ll treat it as a real question and say a big hell no. 🙂

Do all bank robbers do it for the challenge like you did? I’ve always wondered why after they get away with a successful heist they continue and always get caught.

I think most first-timers do it out of desperation for their own personal financial problems, but career bank robbers — in my opinion — do it for the rush or the thrill rather than financial reasons.

Doing one successful heist just makes you feel that much more confident, and eventually people let their guards down and stop being careful like they were in their earliest crimes. For me, I treated every single one as the most important thing in my life, and I went to great lengths to make sure I didn’t let myself get into a position to be caught.

On a scale from 1-10, how fun was it? Scary?

I don’t think I would describe it as fun. It’s kind of like sex. Everyone will use a different adjective to describe it, but none of them are quite accurate. It’s just…aahhhhh. Ya know?

It was scary the first time I ever went to do it, and I chickened out. I sat in my truck in the parking lot beforehand but couldn’t calm down, so I went home and came back the next day. Except for that one day when I backed out, I never experienced fear.

Did the FBI seize the money you stole? Or what happened to it all?

I never kept it, but I did pay it back after prison.

What’s the life lesson you can give me?

Without knowing about your life, I don’t know what lesson might be applicable for you.

I think generally, it’s important to embrace the shit you’ve done wrong and be accountable for the things you can change in your own life. I’m a big fan of just stepping up and admitting where I was at fault, and I take a lot of pride in accepting responsibility for the things I’ve done.

Have you hurt or killed anybody during a robbery?

No and no. I’m sure I scared a few people just by the nature of what was going on, but I never assaulted anyone.

What is your advice to a young man or woman looking to get his our her bank robbing career going?

To not do it.

The majority of bank robberies are solved because people don’t know how to not get caught. It’s very hard to get away with, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

It’s exciting at first, and it’s even addicting. But like any addiction, you always want more until you realize that more is never enough and you’re left feeling quit empty inside.

A serious answer to a (probably) funny question, but that’s what comes to mind for me when I read it.

What city’s did you rob them in?

Mostly in and around Texas — Rockwall, Garland, and Allen, to name a few.

What was the closest call you ever had as far as either getting caught or hurt?

The last one I did, the teller freaked out as soon as I turned to leave the bank. She started screaming “lock the doors, lock the doors” but I ignored it and just kept walking like nothing was happening. I got out before the doors were locked, but a guy walking into the bank seconds later already found them locked. He was pissed, of course, because it wasn’t closing time, and he thought he had gotten there too late. He obviously didn’t realize the guy who had just walked out of the bank and past him had just robbed the bank.

My police friends have all said, in different ways, that criminals are generally “different” from non criminals. They think differently, they don’t really value humanity, decency, morality in the same ways as others; they are fundamentally ‘off’. The act of walking into a bank and pulling this off – the first time – must be absolutely fucking terrifying unless you just dont give a shit. You have to be sociopathic to an extent to do that. The anxiety just thinking about it makes me a little sick. I know I dont have that mentality. I’m not being judgemental, but what happened, you know, deep down, to give you the ability to do what you did. I know you didnt hurt anyone, but that means little – and doesnt make you a ‘better criminal’. Whats broken dude?

I value humanity. I’m the guy who stops to help strangers who are broken down on the side of the road. I feel that’s my role to fulfill.

I don’t view money (or banks, in this case) as a part of humanity. I understand the technicalities involved (i.e., humans work at the banks), but generally speaking, I didn’t feel like I was hurting people in the big scheme of things.

Morality is subjective in my opinion. Animals aren’t considered immoral because they are doing what they need to do in order to survive when they kill and each other. This is a wild comparison, of course, but that’s just kind of how my mind works. I don’t believe in morality in the sense that another man’s laws apply to me.

Granted, I still follow most laws, but if I think your laws are getting in the way of my life, I’m okay side-stepping them. I make much better choices now, and my thinking is more in line with what you would consider acceptable, but ultimately, I still think morality is a very dicey topic.

I checked myself out quite a bit when I was locked up and found what was broken (or what I’d call the missing piece). My personality is what it is, and there’s now way to change who I am, but I can make better decisions now based on seeing the world with more clarity than I had before.

It’s a lot better this way.

Did any tellers ever give you 20s against your instructions to try and pass on dye packs or fake notes?

Not a single one.

What was the biggest or best deterrent a bank could have?

Spiders on the counter.

How exactly did you turn yourself in? You briefly mentioned meeting at a hotel, can you elaborate please?

Called the police from out of state and said I had information on a bank robbery from the previous year, and they said okay. And I was like, “Well what do you want me to do?” And the guy said to just contact them when I got to town.

He thought it was a joke, I’m sure.

So when I got to town, I called them from a hotel and they came and got me.

What was your overall plan? Was there any particular motivation that lead you to start in the first place? Did you ever set a “retirement point”?

My overall plan was to have fun and die early. I didn’t think I’d live past 30.

If it weren’t for my son being born, I probably would have just kept going until something bad happened.

Was there a special event in prison which made you reflect your life?

There wasn’t a single event, no. But overall, it was very good at exposing some serious wounds that I hadn’t tended to. I was a very selfish and stingy person, and being locked up throws you into a world where nobody loves you, so you can’t take advantage of them for that. And you have to walk a certain line if you want to stay safe.

It’s just very different, and it forces you to take a look at who you really are.

Are you concerned about people reading this and see all the info from you and current or former tellers, and trying to rob a bank themselves?

No. People who are dumb enough to see a post like this and try it themselves are probably already in prison.

What kind of good behavior must you show to get a 20 year sentence reduced to just 3?

20 years is a statutory maximum. I had no criminal history or anything else that warranted an abnormal sentence. My range according to the sentencing guidelines was 4-7 years. The judge though I deserved a downward departure and gave me 3.

If I’m not mistaking you did a debt free scream on the Dave Ramsey show. How does being debt free lead to your current adventure of wanting to launch a book? http://youtu.be/_TntrznbEdM

Yep, that’s me. That was awesome, and I have Dave to thank for such good stuff in my life — including my perspective on personal finance.

I was encouraged to write a book by so many people who saw my debt-free scream, and that’s where that idea finally began to take form. I’m using Kickstarter because it’s not lending or debt or any of that nonsense. I’m pretty excited about it, honestly.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluechipstore/the-blue-chip-store

Did you have a day a job and just rob banks on the side?

Yep. Turbine mechanic.

Was your sentence reduced due to the fact that you admitted to it?

Probably.

What if the courts had decided to make an example out of you and given you some serious time 20+ years with no possibility of early release, would your outlook on prison be different?

I know, right?

What if?

What was your favorite part during robberies?

Getting away.

Did you get a thrill out of it? Did it start getting less exciting as you did more and more? I would image my heart almost jumping out of my chest the first time around.

As with anything, the thrill dies a little each time.

You think you could steal your ex-wife’s heart again?

We had another baby after I got out of prison. But no, we’re divorced for good now. She’s still a good friend, and we raise our children together and get along well, but we’re not going to be together again.

What age are you going to tell your son?

When it seems appropriate. I don’t know yet.

Is there any place one could learn this art?

I think it would be dishonest for me to pretend that it’s just something that anyone can learn and do. It’s like music, writing, or any other art. Some people have an innate ability to do it naturally, and some have to work quite a bit harder to get it. Other people, meanwhile, will never quite understand or be able to do it.

For me, it was combination of imagination and research.

How long have you been up doing this AMA? This has to be one of the densest threads I’ve seen on this sub in a while.

I think it’s maybe going on like 13 hours now. I quit a while around dinner, but when I came back it was still front page, so I kept doing it. I’ve been skipping a lot of the redundant questions that I’ve been asked 25-30 times, but I’m still answering fresh ones.

What did you think of this AMA Highlight?

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