By Alan Caruba
There’s been a run on the banks in New Jersey. By robbers!
Yes, while others may make fun of New Jersey, I am proud to say that we have some of the most industrious and hard-working robbers to be found anywhere. Just 53 days into the new year, there were 32 bank robberies, a significant improvement over the 23 recorded in the first two months of last year.
Law enforcement officials say it has nothing to do with the recession. Indeed, quite a few of the robbers actually had a job at the time. Then they quit and began to devote themselves to robbing; none of that 9-to-5 drudgery anymore. Bank robbing has the distinct advantage of being able to sleep late, select the bank of your choice, go to the Halloween store, get a mask, a wig or false beard, and then it’s off to make a permanent withdrawal.
In the 1930s when we had bank robbers with real personalities. Top of the bunch was John Herbert Dillinger, a Midwestern boy who saw opportunity and seized it with the one hand that wasn’t holding a gun. The man had style, unlike those country bumpkins, Bonnie and Clyde. Their deaths in a hail of bullets were, however, the proper way for such lowlifes to depart this world. In both cases, they were betrayed by informers, but that’s what happens when you hang out with people of low moral character. And, truly, crime does not pay.
Last year, New Jersey had 193 bank robberies or an average of about 16 per month. Thus far this year, there were 17 during the first three weeks of February. All but two occurred on work days, two were on weekends and one of those weekends was a holiday when banks were closed. Why wait in line, right?
Then, too, robbing banks is an equal opportunity kind of occupation, nor does it require any special training.
People who know about such things say that one of the reasons for the rise in bank robberies in New Jersey is because there are more banks to rob. There are, for example, 504 more branches in New Jersey now than there were in 1997. Naturally, the real boom in bank robbing has been in the suburbs where the number of robberies has doubled since 2006.
To my knowledge and recollection, there have been no fatalities in any of the bank robberies. Perhaps because tellers are taught to comply and perhaps because the robbers, surely knowing they are on several video surveillance cameras do not want to draw any more attention to themselves than necessary though the tapes will, of course, put them in jail for a very long time.
One recent serial New Jersey robber became known as the “Hat Bandit” because he always wore a different hat each time. He eventually pled guilty to six robberies over a ten month period. I guess that robbing banks is like eating potato chips; you can’t just rob just one once you get started.
The “Hat Bandit” lived in my former hometown where I resided for six decades until a few years ago. James G. Madison never used a gun and told the judge he remained a “college-educated man who still envisions the American Dream—raising a family in my own home in the suburbs.” That’s what we need; a better class of bank robber. He got ten years and, with good behavior, will be out in three.
I, myself, would never rob a bank. No guts.