Hapless robber is sentenced to 10 years Mistakes made arrest ridiculously easy

April 03, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

It may have been that the getaway car was running out of gas, that its tailpipe was dragging or that the driver's hearing aid was not working that afternoon.

But for some reason, John Thomas Neal and Carl Henry Jacobs Jr. decided to pull into a service station a few minutes after robbing a bank in Glen Burnie last August, prosecutors say.

Jacobs, 64, pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to the Aug. 14 robbery of the Carrollton Bank in the 400 block of Crain Highway.

The arresting officer, Edward F. Smith, said the defendants' mistakes made the arrest relatively easy.

"Everything they could have done wrong, they did wrong," he said.

Jacobs and Mr. Neal, 48, walked into the bank about 1 p.m., and Mr. Neal pounded on a counter and demanded cash from a clerk, according to Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone.

When the teller refused, Mr. Neal pounded on the counter again.

Never mind that the same strategy got the two men shooed out of a bank in Baltimore earlier that day.

This time, they walked out with $2,600 in cash.

About a block away, Officer Smith was alerted to the robbery by police radio. The officer said Mr. Neal's 1980 Oldsmobile station wagon was not difficult to spot. It was blue with white-painted fenders, had a cracked windshield, and its tailpipe and muffler were dragging along Crain Highway as it plodded off.

Perhaps because he was low on gas, Mr. Neal decided to stop at the Amoco station at Route 648 and Eighth Avenue, about a mile from the bank.

The officer said that as he approached Jacobs at the station, the suspect was "shuffling" up to the Amoco kiosk to pay for the gas -- with one of the bank's marked $20 bills in his hand.

Jacobs surrendered quietly.

But Mr. Neal appeared reluctant to get out of the driver's seat as officers approached from behind the car, guns drawn, ordering him out.

When he finally got out, officers learned why he had been slow to act, Officer Smith said.

"It turned out the batteries to his hearing aid weren't working, so he couldn't hear us," Officer Smith said.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced Jacobs yesterday to 10 years in prison, a term mandated by state law because it was his second conviction for a crime of violence.

A homeless alcoholic, Jacobs' record includes 79 criminal charges and convictions, including a conviction for arson in the mid-1980s, Mr. Paone said.

Mr. Neal, of the 7000 block of Tilghman Island Road, is being evaluated at Crownsville State Hospital after he entered a plea of not criminally responsible in the robbery, Mr. Paone said.

Mr. Paone called the pair "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."

He said that if the case had been tried, jurors would have seen a bank videotape of the robbery attempt, in which Jacobs resembles George Burns. Jurors also probably would have heard Jacobs' first comment to the police after his arrest: "Youse guys did good on this one."

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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