Talking with bank robbers…

I first read about Jay Dee Giles in 2005.  He was before an Alabama judge being sentenced for bank robbery, and his words caught my attention,  “…your honor, prison is where I need to be.  I think I belong in prison.  With my drug habit, that’s where I belong.”  The judge agreed, and sentenced him to 12 years.

Unusual words from a criminal.  It was then that I decided I wanted to interview Giles.  Ever since I produced my first robbery training video in 1998, I had envisioned how I would create the next one.  In the first production, I had interviewed victims of bank robberies and included portions of their testimonies in the video.  I had decided that this time, I would talk to bank robbers – and Jay Giles, a serial robber, would be one of them.

I contacted Giles, told him of my project, and he agreed to help (with no compensation). Thus began a long process of tracking Mr. Giles’ movements from prison to prison, and many attempts to gain access into a federal prison with a video camera.  Getting Giles to agree was easy; it was getting permission to bring a video camera into a federal prison that posed a problem.  Finally after many calls and letters, we decided that an audio recording of our interview would have to suffice.

At the same time I was perfecting my phone recording skills, I had the unexpected good fortune to cross paths with another bank robber.  During a casual conversation with an acquaintance, I was presented with an opportunity to meet with a recently released convicted bank robber.  Within a week of speaking with him by telephone, I found myself sitting down, camera rolling, and discussing how Albert Oliver  and his accomplice took over a Birmingham bank in 1996, and almost got away with it.

Two interviews – one with a convicted serial robber trying to support a cocaine habit, and one with a clever take-over bandit, became an integral part of my latest production, “Robbery: Plan. Prevent. Prevail.” [SEE VIDEO]  These two men tell different stories of how they selected their targets, planned, practiced, and executed their crimes.  For all their planning, however, both men wound up in the same place… and both expressed great regret.  If something in their stories grabs a teller’s attention, causes a bank or credit union employee to think about something they haven’t before, or better prepares them for that robbery we hope will never happen, then that’s a victory.  Plan, prevent, prevail!