The First Time I Broke Into a Bank

Along Main Street there were several sections of older buildings. Many of which were connected by a shared wall. There were many nights that a friend and I would sit on their rooftops and talk, look at the stars or just hang out. We wouldn’t be destructive or vandalize anything, we would just sit. No matter how hot the night air—or the blacktop rooftops—might be, it was always cooler than a teenagers house might be.

My buddy had a sister who was dating the son of the owner of the local newspaper. Their offices were located in one of those buildings that lined Main Street. We had spent many hours earning extra income at the newspaper doing odd jobs like sweeping or collating. We were very familiar with the shop and its surroundings. Including the bank next door.

Many nights were spent speculating on what the old banks security might be like. We would inspect the windows for bolts or wires or cameras inside the second story offices. We never saw any. One night we used the ladder stashed in the open storage area to climb to the roof—like we always did—and found the unexpected. A window, left ever so slightly open!

The corner bank. The only bank.

We looked around to see if anyone was passing by. Not a soul, except one window from a nearby house, within clear view of us. A lamp in the room was on, but all we could see was the silhouette of a high back chair, and we could not tell if anyone was in it. My friend and I could not let this opportunity pass us by. So we carefully, slowly, opened the window. No alarm. We inspected the window frame for signs of infrared security. No alarm. This was going to work! So we both put our right hands into, then out of, the office through the open window. No alarm. Next, I stuck my head into the room and looked around for cameras on the walls we could not previously see. No alarm. The excitement was building to a fever. I had to get into that bank!

I climbed in not knowing what I was going to do next. Once in, I fought the urge to run up and down the halls, in and out of every room, waving my arms and whooping like a mad man. I had broken into a bank! Still, no alarm. My friend was half-way in when we heard a car approaching. Was there an alarm?!? The car passed by without noticing us. No alarm. The choice of what to do next was replaced with common sense. We should leave. We had never, ever, planned on stealing money or anything of value. We just wanted to see if we could ever break into a bank, and not get caught. The both of us had barely exited the bank and closed the window—all the way—when a police car pulled into the parking lot behind the bank. This was a Friday night. The rest of the weekend no longer looked promising.

Monday morning I was back in school and it was third period. Another friend, who was aware of my possibly questionable activities, quietly asked if I had broken into the bank Friday night. I was blown away. “How could you have possibly known?”, I asked. He explained that his grandmother lived near the bank and due to health issues, would sit in her chair late into the night, and just look out the window. She had been watching us the whole time! It turns out she called her son—this friends dad—and asked him to call the police. The dad didn’t believe his mom but knew she would see if the police would show up or not, so he called.

It turns out, the cop didn’t believe her either. As all he did was stop, get out of his car, shine his flashlight around—including at the ladder we used to get onto the roof—then get back into his patrol car and drive away. He never saw us. No need for alarm.

I was sixteen. This was the first, and last time, I broke into a bank.

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