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OPINION: Mistakes make most robbers easy prey for cops

NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton. AP photo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

An article that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle this week with the headline, “Defendant Collected More Than $22,000 from Three Banks,” confirms what a police supervisor once told me about most street criminals: “Most criminals commit crimes on the spur of the moment, out of opportunity, and don’t take much time to think their crimes through.”

In other words, most criminals are more akin to a street thug who notices a closed store, picks up a brick and smashes the window than they are to the “master thieves” who pulled off the Great Train Robbery in Britain or the $5.8 million Lufthansa Robbery at JFK Airport -- not to mention such legendary figures as John Dillinger, Butch Cassidy, Jesse James and Bonnie and Clyde.

The article reveals how this particular Brooklyn bank robber followed a distinct pattern in all his robberies: “Each time, he allegedly gave the bank teller a hand-written note, written in the same pen, on the same type of paper with identical wording, including misspellings. The defendant demanded money and said he had a gun.  He never spoke.  In addition, Rodriguez consistently wore a hooded black full length “North Face” coat with logo.” 

In addition, while the robberies took place in different Brooklyn neighborhoods, from Bay Ridge to Carroll Gardens, all were in a few miles of each other.

Now, I definitely don’t believe in robbery, although I do admit to “taking” a few Ring Dings or Yodels in my youth. After all, one of the 10 Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal,” and the Jewish sage Hillel famously said, “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” If there is someone out there who wants to be robbed, I’d be surprised.

Nevertheless, this robbery pattern almost begs to be analyzed and critiqued. First of all, if the robber did not want to be caught, why did he follow the same modus operandi in all of his robberies? As the article said, “He gave the bank teller a handwritten note, written in the same pen, on the same type of paper with identical wording, including misspellings.” The least he could have done, had he been more astute, would be to have several different people write the notes for him.

Also, the robberies were relatively close to each other and all took place within a few days. Why not, say, hit one bank in Yonkers, then wait a week, then hit one in Staten Island, then go somewhere else? In the old crime movies, the bank robbers always took care to “case the joint.” Apparently, this was too much work for our pattern robber here.

Finally, in every robbery, he wore the same outfit: a hooded black full-length “North Face” coat. By contrast, in the movie, “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3,” the thieves not only wore disguises, they referred to themselves by names such as “Mister Green” and “Mister Blue.” One can only imagine Al Capone or John Dillinger reading about these bank robberies, then just shaking their heads.

It looks like that police officer was right – most street criminals don’t put a lot of thought into their “work.” With good, competent police officers and prosecutors on the job in Brooklyn, the odds are against the criminals, and they will eventually get caught.




April 10, 2014 - 2:00pm


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