What I don’t get about bank robbers


My reaction to the news story about the so-called Barbie Bandits wasn't disbelief or shock at the crime, but rather confusion over their over-arching plan. People rob a bank and use the money to buy stuff. Dude, cut out the federal crime; just steal the stuff directly.

When I expressed this disbelief at the lunch table, one of my colleagues took issue with my assessment. "Oh, no, the food in state prison is awful. Federal is much better."

Comments (19)
  1. Garry Trinder says:

    I believe the video helps to remove any logic: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/03/07/sanchez.barbie.update.cnn

  2. Enkurs says:

    And the following question, what kind of experience do the colleague have with clink food? ;)

    For your swedish training, Raymond:

    Och följdfrågan, vad har kollegan för erfarenhet av fängelsemat? ;)

  3. tsrblke says:

    Yeah, but Bank Robberies have over a 90% capture and conviction rate if I recall correctly.  That is to say, the government wants you to know that no one gets away with robbing a bank so people don’t try.

    Meanwhile something like convenience store hold ups or Fast food robberies have a much lower rate, plus you end up getting about the same amount of money.  (Security policies at a bank prevent you from getting a decent sum of money in the amount of time you need to get in and out, so you won’t exactly be clearing the vault.)

    The moral of this rant, rob the McD’s instead.

  4. John says:

    But which is easier: robbing 1 bank and buying things from 10 different stores, or robbing 10 different stores?  I think it comes down to liquidity.  If you rob a bank, you can use the money to buy whatever you want.  If you rob a store, you are limited to the items they have in stock.

  5. RobO says:

    Not to mention that a first-time car theft conviction wil likely get you no more than probation. You’d be better off stealing and selling a car than robbing a bank.

  6. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    "Meanwhile something like convenience store hold ups or Fast food robberies have a much lower rate"

    That brings to my mind the infamous opening dialog of Pulp Fiction.

  7. Davepl says:

    The last time I had lunch with Raymond, the cafeteria was run by Marriott.  At that time Marriott was also the largest caterer of our state prisons (and may still be).

    Thus, I’d proffer that almost all of Raymond’s colleagues have extensive experience eating prison food.

  8. Ken says:

    It’s safer to rob a bank than some convience stores, because everyone who reads the papers know that bank employees are trained to hand over the cash to avoid endangering other customers – in case that water pistol is real. Sometimes the customers don’t even know their bank was robbed while they were there.

    You can rob a bank just by saying you have a gun – the teller isn’t going to call your bluff. Try pulling that one on a car salesman.

    On the other hand, the Feds do make it a point to catch bank robbers.

  9. benjamin says:

    Nitpicker’s Corner: Your analysis is only true for problem domains where the individuals desire a small number of specific goods, not multiple, different items and not item(s) that are difficult to acquire via normal means (read: drugs, arms, etc.).

    That’s not to mention that there are already pre-existing well-established methods for laundering money.

  10. pcooper says:

    I thought that there was little point to robbing a bank anymore, when it’s so much easier to just politely ask people to give you their account numbers and passwords (with a false pretext, of course).

  11. Caliban Darklock says:

    ask people to give you their account numbers

    Where’s the fun in that?

    People don’t rob a bank to get money to buy stuff. They rob a bank to ROB A BANK. It’s like the holy grail of criminality to rob a bank and get away with it, and getting caught is a close second. You don’t want to be sitting in prison telling people you stole a designer purse or some jewelry; that’s just shoplifting. Any idiot teenager can do that. But if you ROBBED A BANK, other criminals will at least have some respect for your ambition.

  12. Brett says:

    The ‘Barbi Bandits’ also had the incentive of an "Inside-Man"– the teller was in on the "Heist".  I could see a conflict of choices occurring if the girls had additional unscrupulous ‘contacts’ in retail…  

    Also the girls used some of their acquired funds to purchase hair-styling services, which would go with benjamin’s idea of intangible goods that the girls were after.  

  13. fschwiet says:

    Hmm, I’m going to have to rethink my weekend plans.  

    BTW, Bank of America wanted to charge me $6 to cash a Bank of America check today.  Now THAT is robbery.

  14. This reminds me of an old Russian joke:

    • What is a true Russia crime?

    • Steal case of vodka, sell it, use money to buy vodka and get drunk.

  15. flippity floppity floop says:

    “Dude, cut out the federal crime; just steal the stuff directly.”

    It’s a bit hard to steal the ownership of a house directly I would think, supposing I wanted to buy a house with the stolen money.

    [“Nitpicker’s corner: Applies only when stealing the target item is easier than robbing a bank.” They didn’t buy a house with the money. They bought shampoo. -Raymond]
  16. Igor Levicki says:

    I don’t get it — they worked as a strippers at a club so why not just ask some older gentleman to buy that Gucci stuff for them? I am sure he would be delighted to help two poor female students. ;-)

  17. Wendy says:

    If the goal was to get money to go SHOPPING rather than acquire product then stealing direct from the stores fails to achieve the shopping experience.  I understand that many people get addicted to the experience of shopping and purchase things they do not need then get friends or family to return the goods to the sotre later.  

    Shopping appears to be a part of the courtship ritual here in Italy.. ..maybe those barbies were actually looking for a date,  which would probably be mpre difficult if they were robbing a store rather than purchasing something in it.  

  18. OK, I take as a given that people doing this kind of stuff are, to put it diplomatically, of average intelligence. However, what would happen if the very first thing the Barbies bought after the robbery was a genuine copy of Vista Ultimate for their home PC?

    Would that look bad for MS (Vista is soooo expensive you have to rob a bank to buy it!) or would it look good (they wanted so much to get Vista that nothing would stop them)?

    What if they bought a MacBookPro?

    Is it me or is there a marketing opportunity here? Stage a fake bank robbery that will indirectly attract national attention to your products and you get lots of free TV time.

    How hard would it be to appear to another couple of Barbies as an "insider" and lead them to do something like this without them knowing that they are getting framed for marketing purposes. Social engineering serving corporations this time…

    Gosh, that’s why I really like marketing instead of all this kernel code I write every day… I am only 37, is it too late for me to change shifts? LOL

  19. lurker1 says:

    I met a man in jail who claimed to be starting a job with Microsoft the next day. I thought that anecdote would never be on topic.

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