Fun with Dick and Jane: Former VP turns bank robber

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On Tuesday night, 34 year old Bruce W. Higgins Jr., was arrested in Washington D.C. on charges of armed robbery and being a fugitive. According to police, Higgins is suspected of stealing money from two branches of SunTrust bank, one in Arlington, Virginia, and the other in Washington. In both cases, Higgins apparently handed a teller a note in which he asked for money and indicated that he had a weapon.

There are a few things that separate Higgins' story from that of the average, run-of-the-mill bank robber. One is that, unlike the stereotypical thief, Higgins has a Linked-in profile. On it, he indicates that he is a Senior VP for IT Strategy at Silo Smashers, a DC-area consulting firm. Upon further analysis, however, it appears that Higgins may need to update his profile: apparently, he was promoted from VP for IT to Senior Vice President for Business Development. In 2007, however, he was fired from the company.

Another thing that separates Higgins from the average bank robber is his job history. Unlike many people in his new profession, he didn't work his way up from shoplifting to purse-snatching to armed robbery. Rather, his resume indicates that he has more than 12 years of experience in executive-level sales, marketing, and operations. In addition to Silo Smashers, he has worked for Michael Baker Corporation, a global energy and engineering company, where he rose to the position of Chief Information Officer.

I first learned about Higgins when I was researching a piece on the rise of bank robbery. At the time, I was immediately struck by another thing that separates him from the average bank robber: I know him.
Bruce attended elementary school and high school with my sister Sue, and his older sister was one of my friends. BJ, as I knew him, was a funny, friendly kid who played a little football and always seemed shy. Looking at his pictures on the internet, I was struck by how little he has changed. Like me, he has less hair on his head and more hair on his face, but he still has the same quiet smile and gentle eyes that I remember. I don't know why BJ was fired in 2007, and I don't know what series of events pushed him to rob two banks last month. For that matter, I don't even know why he chose to hit Sun Trust. I wonder if they hold his mortgage?

A few years ago, a remake of the 70's comedy Fun with Dick and Jane imagined what would happen if a business executive, discarded by the company that he gave his life to, embarked on a crime spree to support his wealthy lifestyle. While I can't account for BJ's actions, Northern Virginia is one of the most expensive areas in the country, and there are a lot of very smart executives who are currently looking to embark on their second careers. Somehow, I have the feeling that BJ won't be the last one to contemplate a move into the "forced withdrawals" sector.

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