A fiftysomething man who apparently only speaks Arabic seems to have tried to rob a bank in the suburbs of Minneapolis but failed miserably because no one could understand his note mentioning a bomb, a hostage and a big wad of cash. After asking for an Arabic interpreter, the man fled the scene with an accomplice in a white van.
The unidentified man’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad attempt at an apparent bank heist occurred at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnetonka on Aug. 19, reports the Star Tribune, the main newspaper out of the Twin Cities.
The man walked up to a Wells Fargo manager on duty and gave him a note written on the back of a bank deposit slip.
Here is what the note said:
“WE CAUTION WE HOLD TH BOMB, IF ONE TRIES TO (TREACHERY) WILL DIE AND SAIDTHAT YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO PlAY DIE WE NEED SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS WITH OUT THE PIECE WE SEE YOU WELL AND YOUR FAMILY ARE WAITING FOR YOU AGINE NO (TREACHERY). (NB) READ 4 MINUTES SENT THE HOSTAGE BOMB WE NEED THE $75,000.00.”
The bank manager said he read the note several times but wasn’t sure of its meaning, according to a Minnetonka police affidavit.
In clumsy English, the man — who was unarmed — tried to explain his note but he couldn’t find the English words.
The man was also on a mobile phone with an accomplice. At some point, the bank manager got on the phone with the accomplice. The accomplice told the bank manager to “give him the money,” according to police.
Eventually, the man asked for an interpreter who could communicate in Arabic.
The bank manager helpfully contacted an Arabic speaker at another Wells Fargo branch. The man and the Arabic speaker then had a conversation.
“The translator stated the male was asking to make a deposit,” according to the police affidavit.
The man eventually fled out of the bank and then away in a white van.
It’s not clear why the man would use the word “hostage” and the word “bomb” — twice — if he was trying to give the bank money.
Nevertheless, police say they believe the man was not trying to steal, say, $75,000.
“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what occurred that day, but we’re not treating it as a bank robbery attempt,” Minnetonka police spokeswoman Kari Spreeman told the Star Tribune.
Police have traced the bank slip on which the note was written to bank account owned by a 31-year-old man. They believe this account owner is the guy on the mobile phone call who urged the bank manager to “give him the money.”
Police also believe the 31-year-old man was the driver of the white van.
The Twin Cities region is teeming with speakers of languages other than English. Among the languages are Spanish, Hmong, Korean and Swahili, according to MinnPost, an online newspaper.
Arabic is the 10th-most spoken foreign language in the area, just behind Laotian.
The Star Tribune managed to indicate that the bank robber asked for an interpreter who spoke Arabic in the ninth of 12 paragraphs in its story.
It’s not clear if police have identified the man. The Star Tribune does not identify him.