A group of four people dressed as painters casually enters a bank one bright morning. They discreetly disable the bank’s surveillance cameras, with the customers going on about their business and barely noticing them. The “painters” then take out their guns and finally take over the bank. Mobile phones, keys, and clothing are then confiscated. The customers and staff are made to wear painter’s uniforms, exactly like the ones the robbers have on. Handkerchiefs and sunglasses cover everyone’s faces and so, it’s hard to tell people apart. The robbery has just crossed over into hostage-taking.
Thankfully, this is just fiction. The scenes described above are merely snippets from the film “Inside Man,” where one man describes his “perfect bank robbery.”
Heist movies, over-all, are entertaining. There’s always an element of suspense and action, sometimes, even a hint of comedy. But heists, in real life, are crimes. They are far from fiction. In real robberies, lives are endangered, and sometimes lost. Some create noise, some fall below the radar. Nevertheless, these are all unfortunate events where security is always put in question. Were there alarm systems? Were there security guards? How did the robbers get in? Was it an inside job? Was there surveillance?
The real world is tough. Bad guys lurk in every corner, ready to jump in whenever they see fit. Sometimes we are fortunate to have these bad guys caught even before they commit a crime. But there are also times when they get the lucky side of the coin and escape like nothing ever happened. But whichever side gets lucky, these crimes are bound to make the news, just like those featured below.
Banks open at 9am. That’s just how it has always been. And so, when RCBC in Cabuyao, Laguna failed to open at their scheduled time in May of 2008, bank customers grew weary and suspicious and alerted authorities. That’s when this heinous crime was finally revealed. There, sprawled on the floor of the bank, were eight of the bank’s employees, all lined up, and all shot in the head. The body of the bank’s security guard was later found under a tarpaulin outside the bank. With no signs of forceful entry and with two security guards missing, the robbery was suspected to be an inside job. No, this was not a movie. This was real and it was deemed the worst bank robbery in Philippine history.
Supposed to be bullet-proof, armored vans are designed to protect passengers who are most likely carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. But even with burly security guards carrying awesome firepower as passengers, these armored vans are very vulnerable to attacks from robbers. Take for example the robbery that took place in November 2008 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. An armored van was delivering cash to the Philippine Veterans Bank in the middle of the afternoon. Just as the three passengers were getting off the van, they were immediately showered with gunfire. A bank teller and two security guards were killed on the spot while the van driver survived. A witness told police that the gunmen were disguised as military men, with black caps and camouflage uniforms. The gunmen fled the scene with one duffle bag as their loot. It wasn’t clear how much was taken but it was believed to be around Php 70,000. The robbers seemed to know the time the delivery was to be made and so investigators believe that this was another inside job. Police warn banking institutions to be vigilant as these robbers are armed with high-caliber guns that can penetrate armored vehicles.
Crime and comedy
Robbery is a crime but if the robber makes a boo-boo, the crime turns into a comedy. In a town in Agusan del Norte, a robber managed to get inside a bank past midnight and mistakenly switched on the bank alarm, thinking it was the light switch. The bank alarm was directly connected to the police station and so police immediately responded. However, the robber had already fled the scene when the cops came. A thorough investigation was ordered and banks were advised to secure their buildings as thieves may use flashlights next time.
If you can’t get in through the front door, dig your way in. That was probably the idea behind the two-meter deep hole found right under the vault of Banco de Oro branch in Quezon City. Police believe that a robbery may have been foiled with the discovery of the hole. With the police presence in the area, no one has surfaced through the said hole. The diggings led to a lot near the bank where shanties were erected. However, residents of these shanties denied any knowledge about the diggings. If the hole hadn’t been discovered, this robbery may have made it in the books as one of the most creative heists in the country. •