Editorials

Bank robbers can’t outrun long arm of social media for long

Same bank robber? Sure looks like it, even from fuzzy images. These are from bank robberies Feb. 9 at U.S. Bank in O’Fallon and Oct. 13 at Regions Bank in Lebanon. A blue SUV was the escape vehicle both times.
Same bank robber? Sure looks like it, even from fuzzy images. These are from bank robberies Feb. 9 at U.S. Bank in O’Fallon and Oct. 13 at Regions Bank in Lebanon. A blue SUV was the escape vehicle both times. Provided

Apparently our local Bonnie and Clyde failed to get the memo: Bank robberies are down nearly 60 percent during the past 25 years, and the average take of $6,500 is half what it was a decade ago.

Last week the metro-east saw three bank robberies within 24 hours. Two of the robbers are believed to have hit local banks previously. Two were caught.

Adrianna Chanel Frye-Williamson, 20, of Springfield was charged with robbing the National Bank in Edwardsville on Jan. 20 and then returning to rob the U.S. Bank on Feb. 9 in Glen Carbon. She fled on a bicycle.

She was pretty brazen, with bank security cameras catching a nice, clear image of her face. Police spread the image, and other agencies and the FBI figured out where to find their woman.

One Texas man convicted of a string of bank robberies said that’s exactly why he would no longer do a bank job.

“I just don’t want to have a security camera shot of my face all over social media. It’s too easy to get caught,” Clay Tumey said.

Michael Putman, 50, of Belleville, was charged with robbing the Regions Bank on Friday in Collinsville. He and an accomplice crashed in East St. Louis while trying to flee.

Another wore a ball cap and surgical mask as he showed a silver handgun Feb. 9 at U.S. Bank in O’Fallon before fleeing in a blue Dodge Durango. The same gun, mask, cap and blue SUV will likely link him to the Oct. 13 robbery of the Regions Bank in Lebanon.

According to Gerald Clark, an assistant professor of criminal justice and former FBI agent, this generation of bank robber is much less glamorous and more likely the drug addict needing quick cash. “Bank robbery is now largely a crime of the desperate,” he said.

Smart crooks rob banks with computers — $1 billion for one group’s cyber heist compared to $26 million for all bank robbers during 2015 in the U.S. Plus only murderers are caught more frequently than bank robbers.

Expect to see the face behind the surgical mask soon.

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