Some say the dreadful economy is to blame for the upswing in Colorado bank robberies -- but the Safe Streets Task Force, which is charged with tracking down the crooks, doesn't think it's so simple. Atop the list of possible factors a task force spokesman shared with Westword reporter Joel Warner: media attention.
Fortunately, would-be robbers won't get much inspiration from this story about Arthur Bittner, the state's newest bumbling bandit.
According to an arrest affidavit filed today, Bittner, 52, admits to walking into the Key Bank at 4090 S. Parker Road in Aurora yesterday afternoon with a shotgun under his coat and slipping a note to teller Ethel Harris demanding that she hand over cash.
But shortly after he told her, "Don't hesitate," the documents continue, the bandit said, "Never mind," picked up the note and high-tailed it out of there. It appears anxiety got the best of Bittner, who was later found near a stolen vehicle and arrested for allegedly carrying a loaded shotgun.
After a little chat, police linked him to the attempted heist and are charging him with felony bank robbery and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, which could net him up to 25 years in prison. And he didn't even touch a dime of the bank's money.
As if that's not painful enough already, the cops also found a note in Bittner's pocket, which read: "This is a robbery. Don't be nervous and act fast. Go to your first drawer and give me all the loose $100, $50, and 20's. Go to your second drawer and give me any large bills without GPS or dye packs or you will be hurt. Do it fast. Think of your family."
Talk about busted.
Bittner told police he has a gambling problem and needed the money to pay back some bills. At least in this case, the economy isn't to blame -- maybe just raw stupidity, or casinos. But still, robbing a bank isn't as easy at it looks on the ten o'clock news. Just ask the Bumbling Bittner Bandit.
And chalk one up for the anti-bank robbing media.