One of the favorite hobbies of many Rangers is to sit around war gaming, as many elite soldiers do, plotting and planning how they would take down various types of targets. Some of us would engage in lighthearted speculation about the best way to rob a bank. Smarter Rangers would suggest stealing diamonds or committing a heist in a foreign country which would not involve the FBI after the fact. For a handful of Rangers assigned to 2/75 at Fort Lewis, those fantasies became a reality in 2006 when they robbed a Bank of America branch.
They probably would have gotten away with the heist, if only they had removed the front license plate from their getaway car…
Check out the following historical retrospective:
On August 7, 2006, four men brandishing weapons rob the Bank of America branch in South Tacoma of $54,011. An alert bystander sees the bandits exit from an automobile wearing balaclavas and carrying handguns and assault rifles, then return three minutes later with duffel bags, jump back into the vehicle, and speed away. Believing it to be a bank heist, the witness copies down the license plate and gives it to the Tacoma police. The following morning, FBI agents will find the getaway car parked inside a fenced compound at Fort Lewis, and will quickly identify the soldiers involved in the bank robbery. The agents will serve a search warrant on the suspects’ quarters and recover weapons, clothing, and $21,000 in cash. Five soldiers and two Canadian citizens will be charged with involvement in the crime. All will eventually plead guilty and be sent to federal prison. The robbery is one of the most audacious and dangerous bank heists ever committed in Washington state.
A Take-Charge Robbery
At 5:15 p.m. on Monday, August 7, 2006, four men, wearing soft body armor under loose clothing and balaclavas, stormed into the Bank of America branch at 5813 S Tacoma Way, brandishing semiautomatic pistols and fully automatic Russian AK-47 assault rifles, forcing people in the lobby to the floor. While two robbers with automatic rifles covered the bank’s entrances, the other two, with handguns, moved swiftly to confront the tellers. The gang’s leader wielded a 9-mm Glock 19 with a red laser sight, which he pointed threateningly at the employees. His assistant intimidated tellers and customers with a large 9-mm Springfield XD pistol. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) terms this extremely violent method a “takeover” or “take-charge” robbery.
While one of the door guards called out the elapsed time, the leader vaulted over the teller counter and barged behind the bandit barrier into the cages, shouting threats and commands. He ordered the tellers to give him only stacks of banded $20, $50 and $100 bills and not to include any bait money, with prerecorded serial numbers, or dye packs. His assistant collected the money from the teller stations and took $20,000 from a money cart inside the vault. At the two-minute mark, the timekeeper shouted “Let’s go!” The gang exited the bank with $54,011 stuffed into duffel bags, ran down a side street into an alley, jumped into a waiting automobile, and sped away. According to the bank surveillance camera, the robbery, executed with military precision, took place in just two minutes and 21 seconds.