A COUPLE of bank robbers in their 20s had their getaway foiled by two Hereford senior citizens the other day, in what is the most recent in a trend of embarrassing incidents for bank robbers everywhere. After escaping into a brier patch, the robbers got so winded running they simply gave up, presumably preferring a long jail term to the discomfort of hyperventilation.
In light of this troubling unprofessionalism, the following bank robbery primer is presented as a public service to the criminal element:
First of all, get in shape. Bank robbing is a two-step process. After you complete the actual robbing, you must flee. Cars are often employed in the process, and sometimes even bikes, as was the case a while back in Annapolis, when a couple of fellows (one since apprehended) made their getaway on mountain bikes. This requires toned quadriceps, adequate lung capacity and a color-coordinated Lycra outfit. But even if the getaway is planned in a car, you've got to prepare for the unexpected: At some point, you might have to make a run for it.
To this end, I recommend joining a health club. Health clubs offer a nice atmosphere in which to sweat. There are lots of other, like-minded folks working out, too, so it makes it easier to gain from the pain. Keep your long-term goals in mind. And don't forget to fit in by coordinating your Lycra outfits.
OK, you're starting to tone up. What's next?
Pick your bank. This is not as simple as you might think. Country bank? City bank? Big bank? Small one? Bank on a main street? Bank on a side street? Bank with pull-open doors? Bank with revolving doors?
Because so much in life depends on personal preference, I can only recommend that you do whatever feels right. Choosing your bank is something to consider over a period of time, perhaps on those long waits at the club between Nautilus machines.
The next action item on your agenda is to choose a partner. Mentally and physically, going it alone can be tough. Your partner should be:
* Calm under pressure
* Not as smart as you (avoid the potential now for a double-cross later)
* In good shape (see above)
Things are starting to come together, wouldn't you say?
Now, you need a plan. The importance of a plan cannot be overestimated. The poor fellows in Hereford never would have got stuck in the brambles had they cased the joint before the robbery. They would have known to run in the other direction. They might also have noticed how physically fit the senior citizens in town were and opted for a different bank.
How's this for poor planning? Robbers in Annapolis recently failed miserably at Step 2, which is to say that upon completion of Step 1 -- grabbing the loot -- they found their getaway impeded by the police, who had been notified and were now in hot pursuit. In the absence of an alternate getaway route, and being from out of town, the robbers took a series of wrong turns, the last of which took them into the police parking lot.
Plan, plan, plan.
OK, you're in shape, you've picked your bank, your partner, made plans. Don't forget the minor details. One little oversight can screw up the entire job. For example, a crook in the Fort Meade area tried to knock over a savings and loan recently, but arrived after the institution had closed for the day. He had to wait until the next day, but this disrupted the rhythm of the caper, and he got caught before spending a nickel of the loot.
Don't take a cab to the bank and tell the driver to wait. This has happened before and gives all bank robbers a bad name.
Choose the proper attire. This is difficult. Sure, if you feel comfortable, you'll be more at ease and will likely do a better job. But you've got to consider disguises. A wig and fake facial hair can be effective if used properly, but by all means don't obstruct your vision with Groucho Marx nose glasses.
Basic black is the traditional look, stocking cap optional. Still, I recommend Lycra, specifically, a red Lycra bodysuit. This accomplishes two things: First, it will make you feel you're just having another workout, which will help when you're in Step 2. Also, when the packet of red-dye money you will invariably stuff in your bag explodes, it will blend perfectly with your outfit, thus -- not drawing undue attention to you and your partner.
As to the notion that you and your partner will draw undue attention by entering a bank in red Lycra bodysuits, here again, consider your choice of banks to rob. At many places in the city they wouldn't give you a second look.
Consider also that all this training and planning takes time. A bank robbery is not something you rush into, only out of.
Which leads me to another important point: You'll need start-up money.
The health club membership will cost a few hundred in initiation fees and $60 or $70 in monthly dues. The Lycra bodysuits will run you about $100 each. Your car needs to be tuned up; figure $150. It all adds up.
My final recommendation, therefore, is that to afford the robbery, you'll have to get a job. This might be difficult to accept at first, but just remember, it takes money to make money.
Bruce Friedland is an editor in the features department of The Sun and The Evening Sun.