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Clark: How to spot a robber (besides the bad hair)

North Idaho law enforcers were rightfully reeling last week after a trusted Kootenai County Jail nurse was arrested in California on charges of being that notorious wig-wearing bank robber …

The Bad Hair Bandit.

“It’s interesting that somebody can be so close to you and be doing, allegedly, what she was doing,” observed Kootenai County sheriff’s Lt. Stu Miller of Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, who may be linked to at least 20 robberies in four states.

I know exactly how shocked Miller feels.

A lot of us here in Spokane were similarly astonished when Dennis Hession had to vacate City Hall.

What? Hession was mayor?

Who knew?

Anyway, to keep an embarrassment like this from ever happening again, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department has given every employee the following helpful list of “Telltale warning signs that a co-worker might be a bank robber.”

• Seen wearing rubber Nixon mask on days other than Halloween.

Passes folded note to waitress whenever ordering coffee.

• Asks janitors for advice on how a person might “theoretically remove stubborn red dye pack stains from, say, auto upholstery.”

Often quotes dialogue from “Heat,” “Point Break” and “The Town.”

• Has lifetime subscription to Locksmith Magazine.

• Refers dreamily to FBI’s most-wanted list as “hitting the big time.”

• Always leaves car motor running in company parking lot.

• Can’t stop humming that damned catchy “Cops” theme.

• Tosses still-banded packet of fifties to secretary for annual United Way donation.

• Computer screensaver alternates between photographs of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd.

• Lets high school drama students borrow from fake moustache and wig collection.

• Loudly counts down last minute of lunch break by consulting stopwatch tied around neck.

• Always checking thrift stores for large used suitcases.

• Practices yelling, “Don’t move and nobody gets HURT!” in front of bathroom mirror.

• Will debate anyone over the merits of Tommy gun vs. sawed-off.

• Asks if it would be all right to borrow your license plate a few days.

• Says “Which one?” when asked for ID.

• Sends email to human resources to see if fingerprint alteration is covered under company health plan.

• Can’t stop bragging about big weekend “getaway plan.”

• Wears denim shoulder holster on Casual Friday.

• Wild about new police scanner iPod app.

• Skipped office Super Bowl party to host “Bonnie and Clyde” marathon.

• Favorite song: “Take the Money and Run.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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