A 65 year-old Utah man was literally trying to go to jail when he robbed a bank on Monday.
The suspect, 65 year-old Donald Santacroce, reportedly entered a Wells Fargo bank in Salt Lake City and politely demanded $1. He then sat and waited patiently for police to arrive and arrest him. According to local news reports, the suspect attempted the robbery because he intended to go to jail.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by local outlet KSL.com, the suspect entered the bank and handed the teller a note that read: “Please pardon me for doing this but this is a robbery. Please give me $1. Thank you.” The teller gave the man the dollar and asked him to leave, but he told the teller to call the police instead.
The man refused to leave. “Donald sat down in the bank lobby and waited for police to arrive,” the affidavit said. “While waiting for police, Donald made a statement to the victims that they are lucky (he) didn’t have a gun because it was taking the police so long to get there. At this point the branch manager said she ushered all of her employees into a back room for their safety where she locked the doors.”
Police arrived on scene and arrested Santacroce. He returned the dollar bill to the officers. “Donald said he had done this because he wanted to get arrested and go to federal prison. Donald stated that if he gets out of jail, he will rob another bank and ask for more money next time trying to get the desired result of going to federal prison,” the affidavit stated.
He was booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail at around 6:15 P.M. local time on one charge of felony robbery. According to NBC News, he is no longer in custody as of Wednesday. It does not appear to be his first incident in recent days. According to KSL, Santacroce was arrested last week by the Utah Highway Patrol in Iron County on charges of driving under the influence and careless driving. State Troopers noted at the time that he had a Missouri driver’s license that was suspended.
Robbing a bank is a federal crime. According to 18 U.S. Code § 2113, simply entering a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association with the intent to steal or extort property is punishable by a fine and up to 20 years in prison. Taking property valued less than $1000 adds an additional fine and up to a year in prison.
Several incidents like this one have occurred before. In 2011, a North Carolina man robbed a bank for $1 so that he could receive health care in prison. The man, who had no job and had two ruptured discs in his spinal column and a growth in his chest, was hoping that a three-year prison term would allow him to receive adequate medical care. He was charged with larceny for the incident.
A year later, a homeless man in Orange County, California broke into a Wells Fargo and passed a demand note to a teller. He later told authorities that he did it because he wanted to receive shelter and medical care in prison.
As of Wednesday, it was not clear what motivated Santacroce to rob the bank.