this day in crime history: october 4, 1997

Masterminds

On this date in 1997, $17.3 million was stolen from the Loomis Fargo armored car company office in Charlotte, NC. At the time, it was the third largest cash robbery in US history.

The heist began just after 6 PM. After sending home a new employee he was supposed to be training, driver and vault supervisor David Ghantt loaded the cash into a company van and left the facility. He met up with former Loomis employee Kelly Campbell, her friend Steve Chambers, and several other accomplices. The money was transferred to other vehicles and the van was left behind.

The plan was for Ghantt to take $50 thousand in cash, then head to Mexico. Chambers would eventually wire him more money. But Chambers had other plans.

Kelly Campbell, at Chambers’s urging, manipulated Ghantt into carrying out the robbery. She had convinced Ghantt that she was in love with him. As the plan for the heist developed, she introduced him to Chambers, who she said could help in the heist. Once the theft was complete and Ghantt was in Mexico, Chambers planned to hire someone to kill him.

The morning after the theft, Loomis Fargo employees were unable to gain entry to the vault. It soon became apparent that they had been the victim of a theft. They called the police, who called the FBI. The van was soon found

Ghantt, who was the only employee who was not accounted for after the theft, emerged as an early suspect. The FBI quickly made the connection between Ghantt and Campbell and began surveillance of Campbell.

Two days later, the van was found with $3.3 million inside. The thieves had underestimated how much room the money would require (about $11 million was in $20 bills).

The FBI received a tip about Chambers, but could not connect him to Campbell or Ghantt. Their suspicions were confirmed when Chambers and his wife went on a spending spree. Mrs. Chambers even asked a local bank teller how large a deposit she could make before the bank was required to report it to the government.

The FBI eventually built cases on their suspects, but were missing one piece of the puzzle: the location of David Ghantt. That piece eventually fell into place when they traced a phone call Gantt made to Chambers asking for more money. Agent traveled to Mexico where, with the help of Mexican police, they arrested Ghantt.

The total number arrests came to eight: Ghantt, Steve Chambers and his wife, Kelly Campbell, and four friends and relatives (including Chambers’s lawyer). Steve Chambers was the only member of the gang not to plead guilty. He was convicted at trial and was sentenced to eleven years in prison, longer than any of his accomplices. He was released from prison on November 2006. According to the FBI, over 95% of the money was recovered.

The robbery inspired the 2016 movie Masterminds, starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson.

Further reading:

Creative Loafing Charlotte – The Imperfect Crime

Wikipedia – 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina

this day in crime history: october 4, 1997

Masterminds

On this date in 1997, $17.3 million was stolen from the Loomis Fargo armored car company office in Charlotte, NC. At the time, it was the third largest cash robbery in US history.

The heist began just after 6 PM. After sending home a new employee he was supposed to be training, driver and vault supervisor David Ghantt loaded the cash into a company van and left the facility. He met up with former Loomis employee Kelly Campbell, her friend Steve Chambers, and several other accomplices. The money was transferred to other vehicles and the van was left behind.

The plan was for Ghantt to take $50 thousand in cash, then head to Mexico. Chambers would eventually wire him more money. But Chambers had other plans.

Kelly Campbell, at Chambers’s urging, manipulated Ghantt into carrying out the robbery. She had convinced Ghantt that she was in love with him. As the plan for the heist developed, she introduced him to Chambers, who she said could help in the heist. Once the theft was complete and Ghantt was in Mexico, Chambers planned to hire someone to kill him.

The morning after the theft, Loomis Fargo employees were unable to gain entry to the vault. It soon became apparent that they had been the victim of a theft. They called the police, who called the FBI. The van was soon found

Ghantt, who was the only employee who was not accounted for after the theft, emerged as an early suspect. The FBI quickly made the connection between Ghantt and Campbell and began surveillance of Campbell.

Two days later, the van was found with $3.3 million inside. The thieves had underestimated how much room the money would require (about $11 million was in $20 bills).

The FBI received a tip about Chambers, but could not connect him to Campbell or Ghantt. Their suspicions were confirmed when Chambers and his wife went on a spending spree. Mrs. Chambers even asked a local bank teller how large a deposit she could make before the bank was required to report it to the government.

The FBI eventually built cases on their suspects, but were missing one piece of the puzzle: the location of David Ghantt. That piece eventually fell into place when they traced a phone call Gantt made to Chambers asking for more money. Agent traveled to Mexico where, with the help of Mexican police, they arrested Ghantt.

The total number arrests came to eight: Ghantt, Steve Chambers and his wife, Kelly Campbell, and four friends and relatives (including Chambers’s lawyer). Steve Chambers was the only member of the gang not to plead guilty. He was convicted at trial and was sentenced to eleven years in prison, longer than any of his accomplices. He was released from prison on November 2006. According to the FBI, over 95% of the money was recovered.

The robbery inspired the 2016 movie Masterminds, starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson.

Further reading:

Creative Loafing Charlotte – The Imperfect Crime

Wikipedia – 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina

this day in crime history: october 4, 1997

On this date in 1997, $17.3 million was stolen from the Loomis Fargo armored car company office in Charlotte, NC. At the time, it was the third largest cash robbery in US history.

The heist began just after 6 PM. After sending home a new employee he was supposed to be training, driver and vault supervisor David Ghantt loaded the cash into a company van and left the facility. He met up with former Loomis employee Kelly Campbell, her friend Steve Chambers, and several other accomplices. The money was transferred to other vehicles and the van was left behind.

The plan was for Ghantt to take $50 thousand in cash, then head to Mexico. Chambers would eventually wire him more money. But Chambers had other plans.

Kelly Campbell, at Chambers’s urging, manipulated Ghantt into carrying out the robbery. She had convinced Ghantt that she was in love with him. As the plan for the heist developed, she introduced him to Chambers, who she said could help in the heist. Once the theft was complete and Ghantt was in Mexico, Chambers planned to hire someone to kill him.

The morning after the theft, Loomis Fargo employees were unable to gain entry to the vault. It soon became apparent that they had been the victim of a theft. They called the police, who called the FBI. The van was soon found

Ghantt, who was the only employee who was not accounted for after the theft, emerged as an early suspect. The FBI quickly made the connection between Ghantt and Campbell and began surveillance of Campbell.

Two days later, the van was found with $3.3 million inside. The thieves had underestimated how much room the money would require (about $11 million was in $20 bills).

The FBI received a tip about Chambers, but could not connect him to Campbell or Ghantt. Their suspicions were confirmed when Chambers and his wife went on a spending spree. Mrs. Chambers even asked a local bank teller how large a deposit she could make before the bank was required to report it to the government.

The FBI eventually built cases on their suspects, but were missing one piece of the puzzle: the location of David Ghantt. That piece eventually fell into place when they traced a phone call Gantt made to Chambers asking for more money. Agent traveled to Mexico where, with the help of Mexican police, they arrested Ghantt.

The total number arrests came to eight: Ghantt, Steve Chambers and his wife, Kelly Campbell, and four friends and relatives (including Chambers’s lawyer). Steve Chambers was the only member of the gang not to plead guilty. He was convicted at trial and was sentenced to eleven years in prison, longer than any of his accomplices. He was released from prison on November 2006. According to the FBI, over 95% of the money was recovered.

Further reading:

Creative Loafing Charlotte – The Imperfect Crime

Wikipedia – 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina

epic fail, it’s what’s for dinner (again)

Here’s another compilation of the underworld’s dumbest. I can’t get enough of these.

I think my favorites are the guy about a minute and a half in who “lends” the clerk a crucial piece of equipment, and the wannabe baseball pitcher about five minutes in. That guy has one hell of an arm. Not much of a brain, though. The whole incident reminded me of one of these. I had one when I was a kid. I earned it by selling a buttload of raffle tickets for the Valley Little League in Syracuse, NY. Stupid me, I should’ve just smashed a store window and stolen one. Piece of cake, right?

prior planning prevents piss poor performance

I saw this story last week about a guy in Portland, OR who tried to rob a gun store armed with a baseball bat and a knife. Needless to say, the robbery was cut short when the store’s manager – armed with a gun – interrupted him. The suspect was held at gunpoint until police arrived to arrest him.

Now this is a classic case of a guy who had the wrong tools for the job. But it’s also a case of failing to prepare. And you know what they – the ubiquitous “they” – say, “When you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Had this dude cased the store properly, he’d have known that the employees carried guns. In fact, I don’t recall ever being in a gun store where most, if not all, of the employees were armed.

Anyway, the whole failing to prepare/preparing to fail thing reminded me of a scene from the 1985 film Code of Silence. The film stars Chuck Norris and was directed by Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Under Siege). The scene in question involves the attempted robbery of a bar frequented by cops. Look for the late, great Dennis Farina with a cast on his leg and a Chicago Cubs hat on his head.

the health food heist

mastermind

Okay, pop quiz for all you criminal masterminds out there. You’re a fugitive with a felony warrant for your arrest in Oregon. You find yourself in a Walmart in Ada County, Idaho when you get the munchies. About $5 worth of junk food will satisfy your craving. You have $20 in your pocket and another $2000 in your car. What do you do?

That’s a tough question. But not if you’re Stephen Anthony Jacalone. If you were him, you’d know that the correct answer is to shoplift your snack. Which results in your promptly being caught. Then the police are called. They do a quick check for active warrants and , lo and behold, find you have a warrant in Oregon. Oops. Might as well waive extradition. No sense staying in Idaho, where you’re sure to be ridiculed every minute you’re there. The lengths people will go to to save a buck or two…

vajaygun

vajaygun

Now here’s something you (hopefully) don’t see every day. Police in Oklahoma, while searching the recently arrested Christie Dawn Harris (pictured above on the left), found a .22 caliber revolver (pictured above on the right) hidden in her vagina. The gun was loaded with three live rounds. Why was she hiding the gun in her vagina? Because she couldn’t use her butt crack, as it was filled with baggies of methamphetamine.

A few things come to mind here:

1. Where did she get ammo. I’ve been having a helluva time finding rounds for my .22.

2. I hope she was using Remington ammo. Doing so would reduce the chances of accidentally shooting herself.

3. As bad as this sounds, at least it was a small gun. I mean, it’s not like she was hiding Bullet Tooth Tony’s Desert Eagle .50 up there.

a short drive in a long car

limodriverfail

Meet Tyler Bellick, of Schenectady. Tyler is not a limo driver, and he doesn’t play one on TV. But Tyler didn’t let that stand in his way last weekend.

It seems that during a night out in Saratoga Springs, NY, Tyler had a bit of a problem starting his own car. Apparently, the court-ordered interlock device installed on his own car got a notion that he’d had too much to drink, so it strongly hinted that he should find an alternate means of transportation. And that’s just what he did.

As luck would have it, someone had left a car sitting around with the keys still inside. So Tyler decided to take it for a spin. The car, by the way, was a limousine. And it was packed with ladies out on the town for a bachelorette party. Ladies who were not happy about the unscheduled departure. Or the drunk driver at the wheel.

Fortunately, the impromptu trip didn’t last long. Carla Rinaldi, a friend of the bachelorette, put an early end to Tyler’s joy ride. Springing into action like Lara Croft in Prada, Ms. Rinaldi jumped the divider, grabbed Tyler around the neck with one hand, and knocked the car out of gear with the other. When the car came to an abrupt halt, Tyler jumped out and hoofed it out of there. With a squad of pissed-off ladies in hot pursuit. He was quickly apprehended by security personnel at the Saratoga Casino (where the incident took place), who held him until police arrived.

Tyler Bellick was charged with felony driving while intoxicated, fourth-degree grand larceny, and first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.