There’s a popular saying that says, “Everyone has the perfect plan for a bank robbery, and the perfect idea for a restaurant,” or something along those lines. In regards to the first, it’s not to say most people would ever seriously consider such a crime, but we’ve all watched enough movies and heard enough stories where we think we know what the best way to do it would be.
So it makes you wonder if Monday’s bank robbery of a Chase branch just blocks down the street from Barnard College as President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address was pure brilliance, or utter stupidity. Whatever your line of thinking, one things is for sure, they definitely had a lot of guts.
Why? Well, President Obama’s visit to Barnard meant most of the available police presence in the area would be occupied at the event, stationed around the campus. So it may seem like the perfect time to commit a robbery, striking when the police are busy and unavailable. But choosing a location so nearby to where that huge police presence was perhaps was a little ballsier than most.
You see, Barnard College is located on 117th and Broadway, and the Chase branch that was robbed was just down the road on 112th.
To get a better idea of the proximity, take a quick look at this Google map of the distance between the two locations.
So as the president was speaking just five blocks away, with the majority of the the police force of the Upper West Side of Manhattan right down the road, but very few left patrolling the streets, a man walks into the Chase location, passes a note to the teller, and exits minutes later with his ill-gotten loot, clear to make an easier getaway due to the lack of the available response from authorities.
Had they chosen to respond though, it wouldn’t have taken long for over half of the local force to pounce given how close they were. But, this man took a gamble that they wouldn’t leave the event (and the President) unprotected, and as it turns out, he was right.
And apparently this isn’t the first time such robberies, timed to coincide with the appearance of politicians sapping local resources, has occurred. On August 4, 2004 in Davenport, Iowa five bank robberies took place in a single hour while presidential candidates Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush held competing rallies during their 2004 presidential election campaigns.
It’s unclear whether those robberies were committed by the same suspect, though given the time and proximity of the locations it’s theorized that at least three of them may have been connected, so it’s entirely possible.
So this leads me to the next leap in my line of thinking. Do presidential campaigns and election rallies lead to more crime? Are we less safe when politicians grace our cities with their appearances? Because you would think if they really want to do what’s best for the people, as they profess in their platforms, that they wouldn’t suck up the resources that are meant to protect us and keep us safe, allowing for other crimes to slip by so easily, just because they’re visiting.