9 Terrible Props Used in Bank Robberies


By Lauren Hansen

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.

8. Play-Doh

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 the 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.

Sources: The Associated Press (2), The BlazeCBS News, Detroit Free PressEllensburg Daily RecordThe Huffington PostNew York Daily NewsSun

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Bad Moods Might Make You More Productive

Being in a bad mood at work might not be such a bad thing. New research shows that foul moods can lead to better executive function—the mental processing that handles skills like focus, self-control, creative thinking, mental flexibility, and working memory. But the benefit might hinge on how you go through emotions.

As part of the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, a pair of psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Canada subjected more than 90 undergraduate students to a battery of tests designed to measure their working memory and inhibition control, two areas of executive function. They also gave the students several questionnaires designed to measure their emotional reactivity and mood over the previous week.

They found that some people who were in slightly bad moods performed significantly better on the working memory and inhibition tasks, but the benefit depended on how the person experienced emotion. Specifically, being in a bit of a bad mood seemed to boost the performance of participants with high emotional reactivity, meaning that they’re sensitive, have intense reactions to situations, and hold on to their feelings for a long time. People with low emotional reactivity performed worse on the tasks when in a bad mood, though.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” one of the study’s co-authors, psychology professor Tara McAuley, said in a press statement. Why people with bigger emotional responses experience this boost but people with less-intense emotions don’t is an open question. One hypothesis is that people who have high emotional reactivity are already used to experiencing intense emotions, so they aren’t as fazed by their bad moods. However, more research is necessary to tease out those factors.

[h/t Big Think]

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.


No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.


Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.


The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.


Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.


David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.


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