Thursday, June 3, 2010

"The Reckless Robber": account closed.

As a former journalist it galls a little to be the first to hear a big story have to hold my tongue. But hear it I did, and hold it I did. Here's what happened:

I had to work a couple of Saturdays ago, driving to north Houston to interview a witness in this cold case. I'm not a huge fan of Houston but the drive down there is very pretty, much nicer than the trip to Dallas which is nothing but freeway and traffic.

Anyway, I went down with the cold case detective who is now assigned to the robbery division, Tom Walsh. He's also in charge of the case involving the bank robber known as the "Reckless Robber," featured last month on America's Most Wanted. We talked about the case as soon as we were out of Austin and Tom was explaining about a new lead that he expected to be able to pounce on the following Monday. I won't detail the lead or how he got it, for obvious reasons, but I was pretty impressed. Not surprising, I've been impressed by Tom Walsh ever since I met him.

Talking of impressed, he told me about some of the people working on the Reckless Robber case, one of whom was an analyst who'd made predictions about when the guy would strike again. Imminent, the analyst had said.

We started talking about something else, our own case probably, when his phone rang. I sat there and listened to a string of "No way," "You're kidding," "Is he okay?" and "Holy #@&*" exclamations.

Clever analyst. The Reckless Robber had just hit in Sugarland, Texas, and some quick-responding deputies had swooped. Sadly, one of them had been shot as the robber and his accomplice tried to escape (hence Tom's concern). We learned later that his injuries were not going to be fatal, which allowed us a little more leeway to be happy about the capture.

Well, the capture of the accomplice, because the Reckless Robber himself won't be facing any earthly justice. Basically, when the cops were chasing his van, he kicked open the back doors and opened up with an assault rifle, giving the police few options when it came to a response. The guy had committed 26 robberies (including the last one), terrorizing bank employees and customers all over Texas. The amazing thing to me is how little money he, and other robbers, ever get. I don't know the exact sums but I think it's safe to say that if he hit every two weeks, he'd actually end up with more cash if he held down a half-decent job. That's how pointless bank robbery is these days.

And for those who do decide to do it, well, they have local cops, crime analysts, and the FBI hunting for them. And Tom Walsh. Not good odds for the robber, certainly not over the long term. Not good at all.

Just ask the Reckless Robber. Oh, right. Maybe ask his accomplice.

P.S. -- One last journalism-related note: I didn't see this story in the Statesman. Did I miss something, or did they?

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