Inside the mind of a bank robber
Note: This is the second part in a two-part series on crime in central Indiana. Read part one here.
Hollywood has glamorized bank robbers for years. In central Indiana, art often imitates life with real bank robbers wearing masks, toting guns and demanding cash. In one frightening case, a bank robber took his girlfriend's daughter hostage during a hold-up before letting her go.
Now, for the first time, 13 Investigates is analyzing central Indiana robberies, combing through five years of police reports, learning when and where robberies happen and which banks have been targeted. We traveled to the Westville Correctional Facility in northern Indiana to get inside the mind of a criminal who has spent his life robbing banks.
"I would see myself as a career criminal," said 48-year-old Michael McKinzie, who says he has robbed more than ten banks in Florida, Illinois and Indiana.
"I've robbed everything you can think of. Gas stations. I've robbed convenience stores, I've robbed banks. What better place than to get money than a bank? Taking money from a bank is like taking candy from a baby," said McKinzie. "The rush from it is incredible. It's awesome. It's intense. It's like getting a hit of dope. Just like taking a hit off of a crack pipe. Most of my crimes were done strictly for drugs. I'm a drug addict and that's how I pay for my habit," said McKinzie. "I don't even see what I did as a bank robbery. I see it like cashing a check."
McKinzie always showed the bank teller a note during his robberies. He learned from experience not to hand the teller the note because it leaves fingerprints.
"[The note] said, 'this is a robbery. No alarms and no dye packs,'" said McKinzie. "Within a few seconds, she handed me a large stack of money, about $4,500," said McKinzie. "I mean, come on. A note? That's not robbery. 'Gimme your money' - that's not robbery. A robbery is 'give me your money or I'm going to shoot you,'" said McKinzie.
When asked how he spent the money, McKinzie was transparent.
"I spent every bit of it on drugs. Every bit of it," said McKinzie. "The bank robbery happened on a Friday and I was broke by Monday."
McKinzie said he always had a .38 caliber gun when he robbed banks but maintains he would not have hurt anyone with the weapon.
"I don't see the point in hurting people for this money," said McKinzie. "I went into the bank knowing that I'd probably get arrested and that was my intention. I'd rather be dead or in prison than dealing with what I was dealing with," said McKinzie. "I had to get the money. I had to get my drugs."
McKinzie was caught in northern Indiana because his neighbors told police the getaway car in the crime was his vehicle. He is now serving a 16-year sentence. From behind bars, McKinzie gives unique insight into the mind of a bank robber.
"It was typically in the morning. I would hit them 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock," said McKinzie. "The only thing I ever wore was hats, baseball hats and glasses. Mostly of the cameras are high near the ceilings, so I'd wear a baseball hat with a bill on it and I'd keep my head down a little bit, so it would cover my face," said McKinzie.
"We just want the money. We're in there for the money. We're not in there to kill anybody or anybody. We just want the money," said McKinzie.
"I never cased my banks out. The one thing I would look for is security guards. I didn't want to go into a bank that had security guards," said McKinzie. "If it's a takeover robbery if they're told to lay on the ground, lay on the ground. If they're told not to look up, don't look up. A hero is the last thing these guys want around. I certainly didn't want a hero trying to stop my game."
We examined 181 robberies to see if there were any trends to keep you safe. Our research revealed 80 robberies happened between 9:00am-11:00am, the most of any time period. The fewest robberies happened on Saturdays. We also learned most robbers work alone, were not violent and just showed a note or only threatened to use a weapon. Most of the crimes were just the way McKinzie worked, with a single purpose to get cash.
When asked if he would rob banks again when he is released in 2016, McKinzie did not hesitate.
"Oh, I'll do it for sure, in a second. If I get addicted, yeah. It's the easiest crime I've ever committed."