It's not every day that banking reporters stumble upon crime scenes right below their offices.
In a turn that gives new meaning to the phrase "ripped from the headlines," a PNC bank branch beneath American Banker's metro Washington offices was robbed on Wednesday morning. The branch, in Ballston, Virginia, is just floors beneath the newspaper's bureau, although the two have separate entrances on different sides of the building.
The suspect reportedly entered the branch wearing a "purple and red wig, a yellow shirt and sunglasses," and carrying a "zebra-striped Harris Teeter shopping bag" for his bounty, according to ARLnow.com, a local news website that reported the incident. (American Banker staff, upstairs reporting on compensation clawback bills and Federal Reserve meetings, missed the drama.)
Despite his outfit, the wigged suspect tried using some time-honored tactics to avoid drawing attention to himself. He handed a note to the teller, demanding money and claiming he had a gun, according to ARLnow.com, which described him as a young, black man in his 20s.
It was only after he fled the bank that his plan began to go awry. A witness spotted the suspect in a nearby alley changing clothes, and immediately called the police. (This reporter suspects that the alley is the same one that many colleagues have used as a shortcut to the neighboring Starbucks.)
Meanwhile, a dye pack hidden in the wads of cash exploded, tainting the spoils of the theft, ARLnow.com reported. A PNC spokesman declined to comment on the robbery.
The suspect, whose name was not reported, was arrested just a few minutes later, as he tried to make his escape to the nearby Ballston metro station with a mere $6 in his pocket, according to ARLnow.com.
The incident has reiterated a lesson for this financial reporter: in case there was any doubt, crime doesn't pay.