1. Spaghetti sauce
On April 13, a woman allegedly walked into a Detroit bank, put a heavy cloth sack on the counter, and demanded cash from the teller. She said she had a bomb in the bag, which, considering its heft, was enough to convince the teller to fork over an undisclosed amount of money. The robber escaped, and the bomb squad swooped in to find that the threat was actually just two cans of spaghetti sauce. The suspect is still on the loose.
2. A fake plastic gun
You might think a fake plastic gun would be the ideal weapon to fool your victims into submission. But if your gun looks too real, you might actually inspire people to fight back. Which is exactly what happened on March 1 at a bank in Trimble, Mo. While a masked man was allegedly threatening a bank teller, another bank employee, who was in an office, grabbed his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver from his desk and fired two rounds at the robber. The man was struck in the jaw, but managed to escape, leading police on a wild car chase. He didn't make it very far, however, and was later arrested. He remains hospitalized in federal custody pending a detention hearing. The bank employee who fired the shots reportedly has a concealed weapon permit and is not expected to face charges.
3. A toilet plunger
In April 2012, Lawrence Deptola allegedly tried to rob not one bank but three in upstate New York while brandishing a toilet plunger. According to reports, the 49-year-old entered the banks yelling obscenities and then ordered tellers to put money in a bag while waving the plunger around. Police chased Deptola on foot after he entered the third bank and arrested him on charges of attempted third-degree robbery. No one was hurt, and no money was stolen.
4. McDonald's apple pies
In February 2012, Daniel Hegwood allegedly entered a Wells Fargo bank in Sacramento, Calif., and told a teller he had a dangerous bomb inside his McDonald's fast food bag. The teller reportedly gave him a hefty amount of cash and Hegwood fled on foot, "bomb" in hand. Police caught up to him, though, and found the McDonald's bag wasn't filled with explosives, but with delicious apple pies. When he resisted arrest and threatened to detonate the bomb in his backpack, police called in a bomb squad. "Certainly in this day and age you have to take every threat seriously," Officer Laura Peck said. "But, with hindsight, knowing the bag contained apple pies, it gives us insight into the lack of sophistication in his methods. Clearly, he's not that good at bank robbery." The 33-year-old was reportedly arrested for robbery, resisting arrest, and other charges.
5. A glue gun
In December 2011, Aaron Randolph allegedly walked into an Indianapolis, Ind., bank and held the employees up with a glue gun. The tellers believed the gun to be real and handed over an unspecified amount of cash before the 23-year-old burglar fled. To be fair, Randolph had cleverly wrapped the arts and crafts tool in black electrical tape and also said he had a bomb. Police were able to track Randolph down with the help of surveillance video and reports of a stolen car parked less than a mile from the scene of the crime. At the time, the suspect was reportedly held on $80,000 bond.
6. A box of macaroni
In 2009, Mark Anthony Carpenter allegedly walked into a North Carolina bank, claimed his box of macaroni was a bomb, and demanded money. The tellers, however, were skeptical of how uncooked pasta could cause them harm and so refused to give him any money. The 44-year-old then reportedly fled, but was apprehended by police in a nearby woods after a brief foot-chase.
7. A garage door opener
Just before closing time at an Ohio bank on March 15, 1995, Jacqueline Paluszak reportedly walked in and demanded money from three tellers. She threatened them with a bomb that she said she could detonate with the device in her hand. The tellers almost fell for it until they noticed the word "Sears" on the end of her device. They wasted no time and jumped the woman, forcing her to the floor, where they sat on her until police arrived. The 47-year-old, who was indeed holding a garage door opener, was charged with unarmed bank robbery.
In the early '90s, a bad economy hit 37-year-old Alfred Walleser hard. Laid off from his job as a liquor salesman, the father of two said he turned to robbery for financial support. Using his daughter's Play-Doh, aluminum foil, and cassette tapes, the Florida man mangled together fake bombs which he used to rob or attempt to rob 16 banks. In two completed robberies, he reportedly walked away with $9,100. He had become so notorious that the FBI gave him a nickname — the "Bank Bomber." But in 1993, he was arrested, confessed to the crimes, and pleaded guilty in federal court.
9. Chewing gum
This 1956 bank robbery is brought to you by The Little Rascals B-roll. A bank teller in a Detroit bank was counting money when 16-year-old Raymond Siebert reportedly distracted her with a request to check on a 50-cent service charge levied against his account. While the teller was gone, Siebert allegedly stuck his wad of chewing gum to an end of a stick, poked it through the bars of the teller's desk and managed to lift 10 $50 bills from the pile. When the teller returned, the teen was gone with $500. The teller only put two and two together when she was short at the end of the day. Police picked up the boy, and an FBI agent found the cash in his home.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- Cuba should beware of Westerners bearing gifts
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
Subscribe to the Week