Bank robbers I have known

Well, there was only one actually, at least that I’m aware of.
He was, surprisingly, a gentleman, despite having done hard time. (In my profession, you meet the most intriguing people.)
I was thinking about “my” bank robber this week after writing the story about the desperate man who allegedly had planned to rob a Chase branch in Nutley. The guy I knew had done more than plan,  but he didn’t get very far with the money.  A few yards, maybe.
The story as I was told it:
My long-ago acquaintance and three of his friends, with a history of petty thefts, decided to go big time and hold up a bank in [name of city withheld].
On the day of the crime,  the designated driver waited in the getaway car on a busy avenue in front of the bank,  while the other three members of the crew did the deed.
The hold-up went off without a hitch, no shots fired, no one hurt. The felons ran out and jumped into their car, expecting to speed away in an instant. But the driver, as new to criminal flight as his cohorts were to armed robbery, first carefully checked the traffic so he could safely merge.
What he saw in the sideview mirror was an approaching police car, a couple of blocks away, speeding up the street, lights flashing and siren blaring.
He panicked, floored it, lost control, jumped the curb and crashed into a telephone pole.
This naturally caught the attention of the cops,  who just happened to be on their way to another call and knew nothing yet about the  bank robbery.
They stopped to render assistance to the accident victims.
And then the bank customers came running out and identified the villains who had just robbed the place.
I heard the story years after the fact, when the man I knew (not the driver, by the way) had been out of prison for some time.  He was that rarity: a reformed criminal.  He had earned not only his GED but a college degree while behind bars and was doing well in his new law-abiding life.
Too bad that doesn’t happen more often.
 —  Karen Zautyk

P.S. Some day,  remind me to tell you about my friend the mercenary, who was the only American wounded at the Bay of Pigs – fighting for Castro.  You meet the most intriguing people  . . . .

The Observer Staff