Good Police Work

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Good police work – it happens. There are some very wise officers who often know just what to do. As a result, many bad guys go to jail. But, sometimes the good police work is helped along by a little luck…and dumb criminals. Credit must be given where credit is due.

Such was the case involving Bobby Lee Davidson and Brenda Tyra. At the time, Bobby Lee, from Tennessee, was 32 and Brenda, from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was 22.

Now, no one ever…EVER, gave Bobby credit for being smart…ever. So, it was really no surprise that, when he finally received his parole from the Florida State Prison in Raiford that he didn’t decide to change his ways and go straight. No, he had graduated. He figured that he had learned enough in prison that he and his genius girlfriend would go federal. They would rob a bank. Just think…it would be a quick way to get some real money – easily. The only thing they needed was a car, a gun, and a bank.

The date was June 23, 1972. They headed to the town of Fort Walton Beach, Florida*. Just like in the movies, they located the First National Bank, went in and robbed it…and got away. So far so good. They were right – it was easy. Afterwards, they sat back and enjoyed the fruits of their (or someone else’s) labor.

Downtown Fort Walton Beach

But it wasn’t good enough. Like most greedy criminals, they wanted more easy money. Now…what bank to rob? I mean, there are plenty of banks around, just filled with money and with people who didn’t know them. Then Bobby had a great idea. They would rob the SAME BANK! See the genius in that? Me neither.

So, on August 25, 1972, two months after the first one, the two masterminds returned to the First National Bank of Fort Walton Beach. While Brenda sat in the driver’s seat of the getaway car – just like in the movies – Bobby went back to the same lobby and made the demand for money while showing his gun. But he forgot one important point in the prison bank robbery school…scope out the bank first and don’t go in if there is a police lieutenant in the lobby.

After he took his newly-acquired $11000 and fled (without looking around), Fort Walton Beach Police Lieutenant Phil Irish started after him. A half-hour later, both robbers were in police custody and the bank had its money back. By the way, they were recognized from the first robbery and were charged with it also. Bobby went back to school for more lessons.

By Mike Simmons

  • Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Sunday, August 27, 1972 edition


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