..Lorna Hartman..

Both the stories in this month's column are about people trying to rob banks. (Don't do it.) Why is it that bank robbery is so fraught with the possibility of failure? There are many variables, so many people, so many ways to fall on your criminal face. Here are two success stories -- the success of the good guys.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- home of fabulous beaches, pretty women, dumb criminals, and smart bank tellers.

The man stood calmly in line at the bank awaiting his turn. "Next!" called the teller. The man walked up to the counter and handed a sheet of paper to the teller. It was a holdup note demanding that a large sum of money be placed into a bank bag and handed over to him.

The quick-thinking teller told the man that she didn't have that much in her drawer and it might take a few minutes to get it together. The man said okay, and casually walked back to the end of the line. Seizing the opportunity, the teller phoned an employee upstairs and filled her in on what was happening. That employee could see the man in line through her office window. She called 911.

She was still on the phone with the dispatcher as police arrived and surrounded the bank. By the time the area was cleared and the SWAT team arrived, a full 15 minutes had elapsed. The man approached the teller.

"Ready yet?" he asked.
"Almost," she replied. Just then her phone rang. It was the employee upstairs. "The police said to go ahead and give him the money," she said. The teller complied.

Bank bag in hand, the man exited the building and was immediately set upon by the police. By now, 20 minutes had gone by since he had handed the teller his stickup note.

Our next story is taken from the "Just say no" bank teller training school.

Virginia Beach, Virginia -- Job orientation is a time-consuming and difficult task for anyone, especially for criminals. And when a criminal trainee and a bank trainee cross paths, the results can be hilarious.

Two would-be bank robbers decided to pull a bank heist in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They carefully cased the area and made sure there were no police officers around. They approached the bank in a normal manner, and mentally noted their escape route. Next, they donned masks and entered the bank confidently, money bag in hand.

Approaching the first teller they saw, they asked her to put all the money in the bag. This is our "trainee-meets-trainee moment."

"I'm sorry, sir. This is not my window," the bank teller trainee responded. "I was just getting some more deposit slips for my window."
Uh-oh. This wasn't covered in the criminal trainee's training program.
"Well, uh, take me to your window and get the money from your window," one of the robbers responded.
"I'm the drive-through teller today, sir, and this is only my third day," the teller countered courteously, sticking to the letter of bank policy. "You'll have to drive through in a car."
"Well, uh, can't you just open the door and take me back there?" asked the robber.
"I can't, sir. I'm sorry. They haven't given me the code to open the doors yet." She continued to cooperate with the robber as best she could, which is bank policy. It's also bank procedure to hit the silent alarm, which she did as she spoke.

The criminal trainee mulled the situation over a bit and then started to run out of the bank, only to remember that he had left his backpack back on the counter. He jumped in the getaway car anyway, and the driver gunned the motor. Remembering not to draw attention to themselves, they immediately slowed down to the same speed as the traffic around them. But finding themselves surrounded by squad cars and officers with guns drawn, the criminal trainees put their hands in the air and surrendered.

When you have a bad day, you go home cranky. When a criminal has a bad day, he's cranky too, but he goes to jail.

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From Crimes and MisDumbMeanors, by Daniel Butler and Alan Ray with Larry Rose, and used by permission of Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tennessee.

If you have a similar story of preventing crime or helping to capture a criminal, or know someone else who does, contact Lorna Hartman.

Link to previous Crimestoppers column: