A Birmingham bank robber is back behind bars after security officers caught up with him when he tried to rob the same bank for a third time.
Cecil Stephens had already served two jail terms for bank robbery when he threatened a cashier at the NatWest bank in St. Phillips Place on 11 October last year and grabbed notes from the cash drawer.
And just 24 hours later the brazen 56-year-old robbed the same bank again, this time grabbing cash along with a red dye pack. CCTV showed Stephens making off with the dye leaking from his trouser pocket. The cash and dye pack were found in a bin nearby.
Later the same day the hapless thief tried his luck at Nationwide in the High Street. With a towel wrapped around his head he went behind the counter, threatened a cashier
and grabbed notes from an auto teller machine. The cashier immediately activated the security smoke device and the bank filled with smoke as Stephens fled the scene.
Now familiar with his appearance, a manager at NatWest in St. Phillips Place spotted him as he entered the bank on 7 November. A security guard asked him to remove his headwear, but he walked off instead and this time was followed by the eagle-eyed manager, who alerted police and two Colmore BID (Business Improvement District) security officers who kept watch on Stephens until police arrived.
Stephens, from Lombard Street in Digbeth, had already served two prison sentences − one for robbing a building society in Walsall at gunpoint in 1998 and another robbery at a post office in East Yorkshire in 2008.
He pleaded guilty to one robbery, two thefts and one attempted theft and at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday (19 Feb) was jailed for six years and will be bound by an extended five year licence period on his eventual release.
Detective Constable Nick Betts said: “I have to praise the actions of the bank manager and security team in the city centre. They reacted immediately and were instrumental in putting a prolific offender behind bars for a very long time."
A spokesperson for Colmore BID said: “Keeping local businesses safe is a key part of the work that we do. We’re really proud of the partnership we have with West Midlands Police that helps us to do this, and we are pleased to have been involved in helping to bring this offender to justice."
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