Bank Robber Hires Accomplices on Craigslist

Now this is clever:

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said Mike, who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

"Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask...and, if possible, a blue shirt," he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

EDITED TO ADD (11/7): He was arrested.

Posted on October 2, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Comments

jdayOctober 2, 2008 12:58 PM

This gives the police another method to track the robber down after the fact. If used properly, it's a very clever trick.

BobbyJoeOctober 2, 2008 1:00 PM

The robber will probably get caught by the ipaddress, the robber used to place the ad.

I bet the robber does not end up being very clever.

EsurnirOctober 2, 2008 1:02 PM

You forgot to close the / in which end up messing up the other post on your website.

EricOctober 2, 2008 1:15 PM

@Bobbyjoe

That's exactly what I thought when I read the fine article. Unless this person did it from a short time use e-mail account, from a location far away from his area, using no credit cards to get to this area, he will probably get busted...

BryceOctober 2, 2008 1:37 PM

Haha, that's almost straight out of 3000 Miles to Graceland (in which characters dress as Elvis impersonators and rob the Riviera in Vegas during an Elivis impersonator convention.)

DerickOctober 2, 2008 1:37 PM

This happened less than 10 miles from my house and was very amusing. Its a brilliant plan.

The next question is how far does his brilliance extend? If he was clever enough to come up with this plan, he should be clever enough to anonymize himself on the Internet.

gawpOctober 2, 2008 1:46 PM

showed this to a friend, he said:
"Would have been funnier if he recruited Natives, bikers, and sailors, too."

Jared LesslOctober 2, 2008 2:06 PM

{spoiler alert!}

See also The Inside Man, where the bank robbers hold the customers and employees hostage, forcing them all to wear masks, hoods, sunglasses, and clothing identical to what they themselves are wearing. Between shuffling the hostages around from room to room and the sheer number of them, the robbers are able to simply sit down next to the hostages and look terrified and nobody, not even the hostages, can tell who's who.

Or the Thomas Crowne Affair, the titular character hires dozens of similar looking men to dress in a grey suit and bowler hat so as to swamp the electronic surveilance in an art museum. Yields one of my favorite lines from any movie: "Just ... start arresting people".

Laurie MannOctober 2, 2008 2:19 PM

One of the frustrating things about Craigslist is that a majority of the jobs listed on it are fraudulant. Yeah, you can tell pretty quick that they are, but shouldn't there be some sort of software that could toss those jobs before posting them?

o.s.October 2, 2008 2:56 PM

@Jared
You make a good point. I would've never thought of it that way this guy was actually pretty darn smart. The last detail is did he use an internet cafe or library computer to post the ad or his own personal computer?

jfarookOctober 2, 2008 3:10 PM

I think that his biggest mistake was stripping as he ran away. DNA evidence off of his clothes, especially from the respirator mask, will likely be his downfall. If not now, some time in the future.

RoyOctober 2, 2008 3:10 PM

If the guy was really smart, he would have used his boss's computer, internet connection, email, and credit card.

We all know how lousy managers are at submitting to security policies.

WarLordOctober 2, 2008 3:42 PM

The original Thomas Crowne Affair - none of the robbers in the first robbery knew each other or Steve McQueen as the mastermind....

mareOctober 2, 2008 4:00 PM

My question is: Did he use the loot to pay those poor guys for their presence? If not, he's a crook.

samOctober 2, 2008 4:54 PM

But how do you know a day or more in advance the exact time that an armored truck will be at the spot?? What I thought(seeing it in the movies) is that the routes and times of armored truck deliveries are, by nature, very secret and always changed for each delivery. How would somebody know that far in advance??

MitchOctober 2, 2008 5:04 PM

Why is it so clever? Why didn't he just pay cash for a disguise and then remove it as soon as he left the bank? He would just look like everyone else on the street.

Charles DeckerOctober 2, 2008 5:09 PM

@mitch

It's clever because he found an easy way to pull a number of people who would match the description given to LEOs in a pretty anonymous manner. (assuming he was smart enough to do it right)

Instead of trying to blend in and having to worry about being ID'd, he got a fistful of people to show up in the area dressed in such a way as to match the description. Makes every decoy a speed bump, buying him time to flee the scene.

MitchOctober 2, 2008 6:47 PM

@Charles Decker

Right. But if he wore a more conventional disguise he 1) wouldn't have to worry about slipping up and leaving an electronic trail leading back to him, 2) every average looking person on the street would be a look-alike decoy, 3) he wouldn't need to ditch a conspicuous costume somewhere after leaving the vicinity of the crime.

I appreciate the Thomas Crown Affair aspect of the scheme, but I'm not convinced it was any more effective than a fake mustache and hair piece would have been.

LouisOctober 2, 2008 9:57 PM

If this guy understood that he needed to remain anonymous after the fact, he can have used, or hacked, a WiFi connection.

This way, he'd now be untraceable.

Chris BrewOctober 3, 2008 2:26 AM

The article has a great typo:

From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

We think that should have been CROOK, not COOK, don't we. Or else the journalist knows more than they are letting on.

Chris BrewOctober 3, 2008 2:26 AM

The article has a great typo:

From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

We think that should have been CROOK, not COOK, don't we. Or else the journalist knows more than they are letting on.

MarkOctober 3, 2008 2:27 AM

@Derick
The next question is how far does his brilliance extend? If he was clever enough to come up with this plan, he should be clever enough to anonymize himself on the Internet.

On the other hand assuming that a random construction worker (or workers) would go along with his plan isn't too clever.

AndrewOctober 3, 2008 4:50 AM

for recognition purposes the human brain remembers the differences from some 'standard' template, rather than absolute details. This results in less storage requirements, and a person is internally represented as 'kina normal, except startlingly blue eyes and slightly bald', which is more memorable than x chin, x cheek bones, normal smile, medium nose, bright blue eyes, kina normal forehead and eyes, balding a bit'. New scientist is where I read about this, but I'm sure google will help those wanting to know.

to the point - someone dressed drastically different will just have the big difference remembered by people. So someone disguised as a builder just get tagged 'builder' to everyone. Out side of a building site, this will normally be enough for someone in their own mind to say 'yup, that's that builder guy I saw earlier'. The details that might distinguish the perp as a person get lost, especially once they loose the builder outfit.

pretty clever I think.

AndyCappOctober 3, 2008 7:55 AM

"Creative. Not a right way of doing it, but creative," said Monroe resident Byron Bevard.

I'm wondering then, what the right way of robbing a bank is ?

SteveOctober 3, 2008 10:13 AM

AndyCapp: The right way of robbing a bank is, of course, to become the CEO, make a lot of investments in risky derivatives, and walk away with millions after crashing the entire economy.

KenOctober 3, 2008 10:42 AM

TO THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE: On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., there is now another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of 4 pounds a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty-one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at eleven o'clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 7 Pope's Court, Fleet Street.

DaveOctober 3, 2008 11:58 AM

Clever, yes, but really lacking in imagination... I would have made a much better plan by hiring others in similar clothes as couriers, making deliveries at the same time to location to nearby businesses.

And I would have sent still others to pick up a satchel at a mail center, UPS store, etc., all along my planned escape route. I'd have vetted all of my potential candidates, to make sure the had a consistent appearance, through a proxy, of course.

Criminals are no different than everybody else when everybody's a potential criminal. :)

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