back to article Bank robber reveals identity – by using his debit card during crime

On January 3, Alvin Lee Neal received a 46-month prison sentence for robbing a Wells Fargo Bank in San Diego, California, and was ordered to pay back the $565 taken. Neal, a registered sex offender, acknowledged his role in the May 13, 2016 robbery in a plea agreement with the US Attorney's Office of Southern California. As …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Natural selection at it's finest.

    At least for the next few years he won't be contributing to the gene pool.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. JC_

        Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

        Classic! Isn't prison rape just a hilarious joke?

        1. x 7

          Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

          "Classic! Isn't prison rape just a hilarious joke?"

          Not if its done without the benefit of soapy water or cooking oil

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

      Don't worry. It will get more chance to reproduce than the average nerd. Lots of women prefer this kind of men, it's the trill factor. Why mate with a responsible, clever man? It's just boring, c'mon.

      He will also have a chance to start a relationship through prison letters.

      Watch the "Idiocracy" movie. It is set in a distant future, but it looks that future wasn't so distant...

      1. Steve Aubrey
        Joke

        Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

        "it's the trill factor"

        So the guy's a singer, too??

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

          Oh, maybe you'll see him at X-Factor as soon he's released from jail <G>

          The other day on a newspaper that once was one of the most respected ones in Italy, I saw an article about the criminal who became a model because women liked his face in his mug shot when he was arrested.... now he will get a lot of chances to reproduce, don't worry.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

          "it's the trill factor"

          So their Budgies bounce with health!!!

    3. joedavis

      Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

      True, but he would have been caught anyway, since everyone in the UK is already spied on 24/7

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

          "Stick to the snooker, reading, or perhaps geography, doesn't seem to be your forte."

          I don't thinl grammer is your forte Symon :p

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Natural selection at it's finest.

            I don't thinl grammer is your forte Symon :p

            Or spelling yours... :-)

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank

    I'm having a bit of trouble grasping the logic of his actions. From what I gather, he leisurely presented himself at the bank, presented himself without any mask of headgear, displayed his intentions and got some money. Did he have a gun ? Not specified. He then leisurely went back home while the bank, the FBI and a bunch of computers churned frantically. When finding the law at his door, he folded and waived his rights, resulting in a 4-year sentence.

    Feels like he was tired of his apartment and wanted to try something else for a while. And 4 years instead of 20 - that might indicate the absence of any weapon. For sure the judge does not appear to think that he's overly dangerous.

    He's a nut, for sure, but more in need of nice men in white coats than surly wardens in black gear.

    1. x 7

      Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank

      Agreed, sounds like a plea for help

      In a country with no unemployment benefits, and minimal health care, for some people prison is the safest, warmest, best fed place to be

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

        In a country with no unemployment benefits, .....

        Are we to assume that you get your facts about the US from the opinion columns of the Graun?

        US payments in respect of unemployment benefits were $2.28 billion for the month of November 2016, and were somewhere around $35bn in the year to November. And that's in addition to programmes like food stamps that hand out a further $70bn a year, an assortment of targeted family aid programmes that hand out more than $200bn more, and other non-family social security programmes that dish out about $190bn - altogether around $500bn a year, excluding pensions or disability benefits. On a per-capita population basis this is the same order of magnitude as similar UK benefits costs which total around £80bn a year.

        and minimal health care,

        There's a certain amount of truth in that, but I don't think you should be too complacent. The US has about the same, maybe slightly more doctors per capita than the UK. And in which developed country has the Red Cross recently described the state health service as suffering a "humanitarian crisis"? I live near one the hospitals particularly singled out for criticism, and my other half works in the NHS, and I know for a fact the situation is really, really bad. I'd rather become ill in the US than in Worcestershire.

        for some people prison is the safest, warmest, best fed place to be

        For some, perhaps. But the rate of assaults in the US prison system is about 1 in 5 inmates attacked by another inmate, and the same proportion reporting assault by prison staff. And there's some prisons feeding the inmates for 40 cents per meal, so I doubt that's going to count as a filling and nutritious meal.

        1. vmistery

          Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

          They spend a lot more per head on health over in the US yet health coverage is not universal even with Obamacare so it depends if your priority is you (I'm assuming you'd earn enough to be able to afford healthcare) or if you feel everyone should get a level of care. If we funded the NHS as well as Americans pay for their system wyoud also probably find you'd get the same level of care they do but covering the whole population!

        2. Shane 4

          Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

          40c per meal isn't as bad as it sounds, I live on 2 minute noodles or a bowl of plain rice at home(not a food person)!

          Theirs would be more nutritious from basic human rights laws in place surely?

        3. Mark Dempster

          Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

          >There's a certain amount of truth in that, but I don't think you should be too complacent. The US has about the same, maybe slightly more doctors per capita than the UK. And in which developed country has the Red Cross recently described the state health service as suffering a "humanitarian crisis"? I live near one the hospitals particularly singled out for criticism, and my other half works in the NHS, and I know for a fact the situation is really, really bad. I'd rather become ill in the US than in Worcestershire.<

          There is definitely a crisis in the NHS, brought about by the last 6 years of government deliberately running it into the ground in order that they can propose rescuing it by full privatisation. However, for the time being the health service is still free at the point of access. Did you know that the most common cause of bankruptcy in the states is medical bills? Even a heart attack can easily cost $1m.

        4. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank @ x 7

          On a per-capita population basis this is the same order of magnitude as similar UK benefits costs which total around £80bn a year.

          I don't know where you have got your figures from but they are well off. £80bn doesn't even cover pension costs. https://fullfact.org/economy/welfare-budget/ breaks down the figures and arrives at a total of £217bn.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank

      If I go to the bank, present my debit card and ask for $565, that's called "making a withdrawal".

      Who was it who, when asked "why do you rob banks?", replied "that's where the money is"? That's just not true any more. You have to be pretty far down the bell curve to even think about robbing a bank nowadays - the payoff-to-risk ratio must be one of the lowest of any type of crime.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who was it who, when asked "why do you rob banks?"...

        Willy Sutton.

    3. Mad Chaz

      Re: Why don't I just mosey on down and rob the bank

      This is in the US. Would not even be surprised if this was a good move for him, if he as health issues and no insurance. Inmates get taken care of better then the general population.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Curious

    How is the guy being 'a registered sex offender' relevant?

    Why was it mentioned?

    Are these people more likely to rob banks, and do the job badly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious

      How is the guy being 'a registered sex offender' relevant?

      Why was it mentioned?

      Are these people more likely to rob banks, and do the job badly?

      Maybe they get distracted more easily?

      :)

    2. King Jack

      Re: Curious

      It is a headline grabber. Just be thankful that 'terrist' wasn't lobbed in too. You can be a sex offender for getting caught short and taking a leak in a public place. So the tag sex offender is meaningless.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Curious

      "How is the guy being 'a registered sex offender' relevant?

      Why was it mentioned?"

      It's just possible that the register also had his address, just in case they needed to check that the bank's records weren't out of date. It also indicates prior convictions which might affect sentence. Just a couple of obvious answers, I'll leave you to work out if there are more.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious

      Previous criminal record?

    5. Vic

      Re: Curious

      How is the guy being 'a registered sex offender' relevant?

      It's another database. So they could get a picture of him easily.

      It aids detection, not likelihood of criminal behaviour. Although it probably shouldn't have been queried in this situation, as there was no hint of sexual activity...

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Curious

        The article says they got his photo from the "Motor Vehicles database" - not from the sex-offenders database.

        1. Andus McCoatover

          Re: Curious

          Get his ID from Motor Vehicle records? Where's the fun in that?

          Now, his new mate Bubba knows...Oh, dearie.

    6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Curious

      A registered sex offender is on permanent parole basicly. They have to register where they are living at all times with the local authorities; an address that may not match the driver's license. Also, the bank would have his address on file from the account information.

    7. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Curious

      Perhaps the bank was next door to a school? Hopefully he was as inept at sexual offending as he was at bank robbery.

    8. Joe Montana

      Re: Curious

      A registered sex offender, or offender of any kind is less likely to have a job and therefore more likely to turn to crime in order to survive.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like

    He wanted to be arrested and banged up to me. I don't think this is a case of a bungled robbery at all.

    Lets look at the facts.

    Hes a registered sex offender. So probably cant get a job and likely has very few friends.

    He gave away his identity.

    He didnt resist arrest or the search of his place.

    He waived his rights.

    I think he wanted to go to jail.

    1. NanoMeter

      Re: Sounds like

      Being a sex offender does not make him popular in prison, to say the least. I think he's just stupid and dumb.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds like

        Being a sex offender does not make him popular in prison, to say the least.

        That depends on the specific offence that got him on the register. US press would not call hime "just" a sex offender if it had anything to do with kids, which is when he would indeed not have a pleasant stay. If, OTOH, it was something to do with a bike which is apparently enough to get listed in the UK I suspect it'll be less of an issue.

        To be honest, I'm a bit puzzled by that tidbit as well - apparently there's so little meat to the story that they have been casting the net wide to add anything that was interesting to a US audience.

    2. Gert Leboski

      Re: Sounds like

      I have a gut feeling that the "a registered sex offender", tidbit was put in to help the collective conscience and aid with the "let's all point and laugh at the bungling pervo, possibly even paedo..." element of the story.

      Perhaps. I dunno, maybe...

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like

        Well it's not like it's hard to find out what it means. In this case the offense was sexual battery. What it doesn't say is when the offense occurred as he's 57 years old, it could easily have been a long time ago.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          @ Eddy Ito

          That site is offensive. I find it unacceptable that a private company is allowed to splash such details of personal life for all and sundry. It should be a government-owned database with managed access and curated data. This is tabloid material made for exciting puritans.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: @ Eddy Ito

            Court records are public, and almost everyone convicted of a sexual offence is named in the court records, along with the sentencing.

            It trivially simple for any tabloid to create their own database of "sex offenders" - or indeed any other offence.

            The only question is whether they think making it public is good commercial sense.

            Worse still, because suspects are named, they can even maintain a database of innocent people who have been accused of same.

            1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

              Re: @ Eddy Ito

              Worse still, because suspects are named, they can even maintain a database of innocent people who have been accused of same.

              The only difference is that the accused aren't required to input their last known address so if they move it becomes much harder for the vigilante types to stalk them. For instance there were several links for this particular individual with addresses in multiple states. I don't know if this is the current one or not it was merely the first in the search results I found.

              Of course I could have simply used the California government database which is more up to date and lists his address as "incarcerated". It even has a handy map search which is likely to scare the pants off most who won't realize what it takes to be on the list. In looking for a few seconds I managed to find a gent who is in his 70s and has been on the list since 1959. My guess is that given his "crime" his high school sweetheart was the daughter of a local VIP.

  5. Chris King Silver badge

    Nothing new here

    I remember some idiot ordering very dodgy videos from overseas using a credit card registered to his halls of residence address, nearly twenty years ago. I won't go into too much detail about the material, child "actors" were involved and NOT in a good way.

    The package was intercepted in transit, and an undercover police operation was launched to catch said idiot when he went to collect it from the local sorting office.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The problem with crime is that sometimes you just can't get good staff.

    http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/hapless-burglar-chased-hit-shovel-12409920

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Excessive sentence

    He doesn't deserve jail time. He should have to go through school again, starting in Kindergarden, and not being allowed to leave until he's got the US equivalent of some A-levels. Thern he might be safe to live on his own and handle sharp things and matches.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your honor, I object

    He was found not guilty at trial when his lawyer argued that 1) That police had failed to advise him of his rights before he committed the crime 2) The defendant would have exercised his 5th amendment rights (not left the self-incriminating evidence) if he had been so advised

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Your honor, I object

      Is that supposed to be an attempt to suggest that the courts are too lenient? Don't give up the day job.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is that supposed to be an attempt to suggest that the courts are too lenient?

        Nope, just an attempt at a little humor. Go pick your fight somewhere else.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People don't believe me...

    Living in San Diego, my friends from afar don't believe me when I describe the sea of stupidity that is Southern California. Here's just another example.

  10. Pliny the Whiner

    In the context of criminal behavior that you can't wrap your head around, I was just reading about Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old who shot up the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport yesterday. 5 people died and 8 were wounded. Of the 8 wounded, 3 are in intensive care.

    There was this in The New York Times story:

    "Mr. Santiago, appearing 'agitated and incoherent,' said 'that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency,' the official said."

    It occurred to me that pretty much most of El Reg's forum regulars are "agitated and incoherent," so expect a visit from various three-letter agencies. You've been warned.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      There's practically no mental health support

      So instead of taking his guns away and getting him the mental health services he needed, they let him keep all his guns and stopped watching him.

      This blood is on the US Government and the NRA's hands.

    2. batfink Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      @Pliny

      ...That's because our minds are already being controlled by the intelligence agencies...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plea Bargin? Really?

    Here's a guy with a dodgy past who has gone and committed a serious crime. The prosecutors have a mountain of evidence against him for this bank robbery, none of it ambiguous, and they have him admitting to it.

    And they agree a plea bargain? What for? This has got to be the laziest prosecution ever. How could they ever possibly need a plea bargain to secure a conviction in this case? Do they feel sorry for him and are deliberately seeking to assist him in reducing his sentence?

    The plea bargain system in the US is one of the foulest aspects of the justice system there. It corrupts the proper administration of justice. It allows prosecutors to bring more severe charges (for which they very often have absurd sentences for) than are relevant in a case, encouraging and scaring the accused to admit to lesser charges that the prosecution might not actually have complete evidence for. It stinks. And it's so prevalent that they do it even when there's seemingly no need to do it.

    It's simply a lazy way for prosecutors, who have conviction success rate as part of their performance target, to get their bonuses at the expense of proper presentation of evidence at trial. They get their bonus despite not always having to show in front of a judge and jury that they're doing their job properly, because plea bargaining cuts that short. It makes one question what on earth the judge and jury are actually for in the USA?

    I'd like to point out that I've never been on the wrong side of the law anywhere, least of all in the US.

  12. herman Silver badge

    Hungry?

    It sounds to me that the guy was going hungry and wanted to go to jail.

  13. Dale 3

    I call fake

    No way someone this thick would have spelled "you're" correctly.

    1. Tannin

      Re: I call fake

      Good point. But he's 57. He grew up in an era when most people - yes, even poor people towards the lower end of the IQ scale with not too much formal education - could add up well enough to make change without computer aid, and were more-or-less literate. Different story if he was, say, 35.

      Alternatively, one might suppose that a literatre journalist or sub-editor corrected his spelling - but only if one happened to believe that there are literatre journalists and sub-editors remaining in the wild.

  14. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Old School!

    Some forty years ago, before ATM cards and PINs, I knew a bank teller. Conversation naturally turned to bank robbery.

    It wasn't surprising that the rule was "Give them the money in the drawer without argument."

    The surprising bit was how often they caught the culprit because he had written his hold up note on the back of his own pre-printed cheque or deposit slip.

    The lower echelons of crime haven't changed much in four decades.

  15. Winkypop Silver badge

    Regardless of any previous

    Things must be very bad if 4 years in US chokey is preferable.

  16. ukgnome

    This could never happen in the UK - the queues make you forget what you were in for.

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