Showing posts with label bank robbers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bank robbers. Show all posts

28 May 2016

Bank Robbers I have known...


By Melodie Campbell  (who successfully disguised herself as a bank manager for several years…)


One of the great things about managing a bank is the interesting people you meet.  By this I mean, bank robbers and other villains.

One fraud artist of my acquaintance was affectionately nicknamed Father Guido Sarducci.  Father Guido was indeed a priest, and one of the most personable guys I’ve ever met.  Friendly, he knew everyone by name, and always had a kind word for the tellers.  Half of us switched churches just so he would hear our confessions.

We adored him.  When he came looking for funds to ‘renovate the parish hall,’ we were thrilled to help. Unfortunately, so were twelve other banks.  The bookies were even more thrilled.  When it finally became apparent that most of the funds were going to renovate the casinos in Vegas, Father Guido got the boot.  I think he now preaches from the local jail.

I don’t know what it was about our particular branch, but we seemed to attract all the novice stick-up artists.  As a matter of fact, I seriously considered installing a sign in the front window: “Experienced Bank Robbers ONLY.”  The situation became even more complicated when the teller in question had the savvy and intelligence of a Hershey Bar.

The following is a verbatim – this is the truth – account of a conversation that took place between one of my tellers and an extremely dangerous bank robber:

Robber (waving large gun threateningly):  “This is a robbery.  Gimme your money.”

Barb (watching the clock for her break):  “How much do you want?”

Robber (flustered):  “How much do you got?”

Barb:  “Well, if I run this little card through here, I can get a thousand dollars.”

Robber: “D’ya think you could run it through twice?”

Barb (bored):  “I can try.”

Robber: “Thanks.”

I have a theory that my customer service reps were in fact members of an elite corps put through special training to psych out villains.  This is the only way I can explain the behaviour of Carmen, our most efficient teller, when a potential robber shoved a green withdrawal form across the counter.

“Read the back,” he said.

She did.  It was the standard note.  (Do they all go to the same school?):

This is a stick-up.  I’ve got a gun.  Give me all your money.’

Whereupon, Carmen turned over the withdrawal form, pointed to the bottom, and said in a totally bored voice, “You forgot to sign.”

Of course, he had to put down the gun in order to pick up the pen, and….

The best story I’ve heard in banking circles involved a seasoned bank robber in Boston. This guy was a master.  He was also highly successful, with the Rolex watch, the Gucci shoes, and the loaded getaway car.  A devotee of the in-and-out school of bank robbery, he would time himself to under a minute.

Unfortunately, on this particularly job, he was not the only professional on the block.  Out the door with several thousand in a respectable 45 seconds, he stopped dead at the curb, staring at empty space.  His car had been stolen.

Melodie Campbell writes funny books about the mob.  The Goddaughter’s Revenge, winner of the Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards, is available at Chapters, Amazon and Barnes&Noble.  www.melodiecampbell.com

 On Amazon

30 September 2014

Fast Eddie

by Jim Winter

Once upon a time, a man named "Fast Eddie" Watkins could get in and out of banks quickly, relieving them of cash, and usually not harming anyone. He became one of Cleveland's most notorious criminals, and that says a lot in my hometown. Cleveland had the Torso Killer. Its suburbs produced Jeffrey Dahmer while the Tremont neighborhood spawned notorious kidnapper Ariel Castro. A branch of the Genovese crime family ran the underworld for years, and Irish mobster Danny Green met a fiery end when his car exploded leaving a union hall in the late 1970's. So, yeah. The Northcoast has hosted its share of thugs and monsters.

But we always had a soft spot for Fast Eddie. Sure, he robbed banks. But he was a gentleman thief. In and out, and he loved the publicity. The Plain Dealer, The Press (infamous for its shoddy reporting of the Sam Sheppard murder case), and the local TV stations faithfully recounted his exploits. In a city more famous for its burning river and its serial killers, Watkins developed a Robin Hood reputation.

The one time Fast Eddie's robbery didn't go so well, he took 9 hostages. After 21 hours, though, he let everyone go and surrendered. The feds sent him to prison in Atlanta. He escaped, and therein is where Fast Eddie crossed a very young Jim Winter's path.

South of the exurb where I grew up, there is, to this day, a stretch of potato fields called The Muck, a handful of rock quarries, and cornfields all sandwiched between the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads. We used to ride our bikes out through there, headed for the tiny little freeway burg of Burbank. Only one day, the local police stopped us.

"Why can't we ride out to Burbank?" I asked the Lodi cop at the roadblock.

"We got a bank robber cornered out past the rock quarry."

I went home. At 6:00, WEWS led their news broadcast with the standoff between Fast Eddie Watkins and the Medina County Sheriff. By 7, Fast Eddie was in custody and headed back to prison.

Watkins never hid the fact that he was a bank robber. He said he enjoyed it. "I wanted to be a big shot," he confessed. His illegal withdrawals helped finance his lavish lifestyle. So where did he keep his money?

"I trust banks with my money. They're insured. It's the best place in the world to put your money."

But was it the money? Watkins wife once said no. Mrs. Watkins said that Fast Eddie ogled banks the way most men ogled girls.

But even in prison with his criminal career over, Watkins remained a character. The Cleveland papers occasionally reported that Fast Eddie had taken up painting while behind bars, favoring landscapes.

Fast Eddie died in 2002 at the age of 82 after a long battle with heart and lung disease. Unlike the bank robbers of an earlier era, going out in a blaze of glory wasn't for him.