January 16, 1998 in Nation/World

Clever Robbers Turn Into Some Easy Prey Trio Pulled Off Ski Masks Before Walking Past Security Cameras

Richard Pyle Associated Press
 

They were clever enough to penetrate the World Trade Center’s tight security, clever enough to grab a $1 million Brink’s payment. But then, police say, the three bandits turned out to be dumb, dumber and dumbest.

They pulled off their ski masks before walking past hidden security cameras, and within hours, their faces were all over television and the newspapers. Then they went home to their close-knit Brooklyn neighborhood, where dozens of people called the police.

“Me and my friend Joey opened the newspaper and said, ‘Holy cow! There’s Mikey!”’ said 39-year-old Bill Stout, who tends bar at a neighborhood tavern catering to off-duty police and firefighters.

They called a police hotline, “but apparently 50 or 60 people beat us to it,” Stout said.

By Thursday, two of the three suspects were in FBI custody. Melvin Desmond Folk, 44, was arrested at home Wednesday night and charged with bank robbery. Michael Reed, 34, was arrested Thursday.

A fugitive warrant was issued for Richard Gillette, 39.

The men escaped with $1.17 million - $300,000 of it in U.S. currency and the rest in foreign currency.

One of the men made no attempt to conceal himself in the neighborhood, even getting a haircut.

“He just walked in here and sat down and asked for a haircut,” said Louis Amato. “I was really shocked and surprised when I found out. I didn’t think he acted like someone who had just robbed a big bank.”

The three accosted two Brink’s guards on their way to a Bank of America foreign currency office on the 11th floor of one of the twin World Trade Center towers during Tuesday’s morning rush hour. Flashing a gun, they handcuffed and bound the guards and five other people on the elevator, snatched three bags of money from a cart - leaving three others behind - and fled.

After that clockwork caper, the three slipped up by pulling off their masks in a corridor and walking past security cameras.

More than 60 people called police to say they recognized the three. “Calls are still coming in,” police spokesman Michael Collins said.


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