As the British newspaper The Independent reported, Lawrence John Ripple, 70, told his wife he would “rather be in jail than at home” and then proceeded to rob a Kansas City, Kansas bank. Perhaps to improve his chances of going to jail quickly, Ripple chose the Bank of Labor just down the street from police headquarters.
At the bank Ripple handed the teller a note saying he had a gun. Apparently, he had written the note in front of his wife to show how serious he was about getting out of the house. The teller handed him nearly $3,000 in cash, but Ripple chose not to flee. Instead, he waited in the lobby for police to arrive. The KCK police had to appreciate this case. They could arrest their man and declare it “closed” without leaving the block.
To be fair to Ripple, he had been suffering fairly severe depression after a 2015 heart attack. Before the robbery, the Independent reported, he lived a fairly normal life as a husband and stepfather to four children. His public defender called the robbery a “cry for help.”
It is very unusual for a bank robber not to go to prison, but both the teller and the bank vice president asked that Ripple’s condition be taken into consideration. Whether out of compassion or a keen sense of irony, the judge did just that and assigned Ripple to six months of house arrest and 50 hours of community service. The judge also ordered Ripple to pay $227.27 to the bank to compensate for the billable hours lost when bank employees were sent home on the day of robbery.
Kansas has not been getting great press lately in the national and international media, and this story continues the trend, but at least here there is a happy ending. At the sentencing trial Ripple said he had since gotten medical help and said he “feel[s] like his old self.”