May 22 • 07:08 PM

Bank robber didn't look like a criminal

March 05, 2008
The security camera photograph taken of the individual who robbed the CSB Bank in Allenton Monday morning that appears on our front page is an image that is somewhat perplexing.

Based on the perpetrator's appearance, he looks more like the guy next door than someone who would walk up to a bank teller and produce a note demanding money.

While police think he may be the same person who robbed a local credit union, his careless method of operation suggests otherwise.

The man did little to conceal his identity. It's been said that he didn't have a weapon and he parked his getaway car directly in front of the bank's entrance.

If he'd done this before, it's remarkable that he wasn't caught. One could speculate that he wanted to be caught.

Could he be so unsophisticated as a thief that he doesn't know that banks have state-of-the-art security cameras, and that he was virtually looking straight into the lens? Or that his identity would be immed-iately revealed to police, newspapers and the television media? On every level, he threw caution to the wind.

So why did he do it?

Again, one can only speculate as to what personal circumstances or conditions would drive this man to risk life, limb and personal liberty for the sake of a relative pittance.

It would be easy to assume that the perpetrator is just another bad apple; possibly a drug addict, a misfit or a lifelong sociopath.

Maybe he's just a thief; someone who finds it easier and more profitable to take money from others than to work for a living like the rest of us. Or maybe he's a seasoned offender, destined to lead a life of crime and eventual incarceration. Surely, he must have known the consequences before he walked into that bank Monday morning. Rest assured, based on the clarity of the survelliance photos, he will be caught.

It's all cut and dried, right? Could it be, though, that this guy's story is a little more complicated than that?

There is obviously no excuse for stealing. And this man deserves to pay a personal penalty to society. But it is reasonable, too, to try to understand what would lead this man to do what he did.

These are economically difficult times for a lot of people. Could this man's life have taken some unfortunate turn that caused him to lose his way and cross the line that separates good from evil; right from wrong? What are the circumstances that drove this individual to resort to criminality?

It would serve us well to better understand what triggered his behavior.

Personally, I'm curious.

I wonder how many others, finding themselves with their backs against the wall and at the point of personal desperation, are walking the same fine line.

Email Tom at

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