Demand notes. Firearms. A drug-fueled robbery spree.
A trio arrested in Moncks Corner last week and now charged with three Lowcountry bank heists is a fair representation of recent statistics from the FBI, if the allegations against them prove true.
Authorities have accused the three Indiana residents of using demand notes to rob two Dorchester County banks on July 18. One of the three is accused of brandishing a .44-caliber handgun during a holdup at a Moncks Corner bank a week ago. Berkeley County deputies arrested the suspects during a traffic stop in Cross a short while later.
The FBI also is investigating whether the three have committed robberies in other states. Moncks Corner police have said that during questioning, 30-year-old Auric Dylan Koestner made a spontaneous statement about committing robberies to support a drug habit.
"They told me they were using a little bit of everything," police Lt. Wendell Bowen said. "They got higher and higher."
Bowen said the three suspects used the money to pay for drugs, a North Charleston motel and other living expenses.
Accused along with Koestner are Lawanda Dee Johnson, 24, and Brandon Evan Williams, 21. They were back at Berkeley County's Hill-Finklea Detention Center after a bail hearing Monday in Dorchester County. They all have a prior history of felony arrests in Indiana, court records show.
Bowen said the three are being investigated in connection with other robberies in Indiana and North Carolina, though the FBI would not elaborate.
"The FBI investigation is ongoing to see whether the individuals were engaged in any other bank robberies throughout the United States," said Andrew Northern, FBI Indianapolis supervisory special agent.
The FBI statistics from the final three months of 2007 show that roughly 17 U.S. banks were robbed each day for a combined per-diem haul of $250,000. That's 1,561 in all from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, including 30 in South Carolina, one Palmetto State bank every three days.
About half the time, the robbers handed over a demand note. More than a quarter of the time, they showed a firearm. The FBI determined that almost half of those caught, 43 percent, used illegal drugs.
This is the modern-day bank robbery. No frills, nothing glamorous. A far cry from the exploits of Depression-era myth-makers like Bonnie and Clyde or the "Public Enemy Number One" John Dillinger.
In the recent robberies nationally, about half the loot was recovered in short order. The total amount taken added up to more than $23 million, about $250,000 daily. Of that, authorities recovered more than $10 million.
Charleston police responded to an equal number of bank robberies — eight — in both the first six months of 2007 and the same period this year, the department said. They made arrests in three of those robberies each year.
Mount Pleasant has had three robberies this year, and one last year. One from this year remains open. Summerville, which saw a half dozen heists last summer and fall, has only one this year to date.
Summerville, Mount Pleasant and Charleston are all looking for the same limping man in robberies from last year. The FBI in Columbia suspects that the same middle-aged man also is responsible for other heists throughout the Southeast. Richard Jolly, a local man who physically resembles the suspect, was arrested last fall but released after six months in jail after similar robberies kept occurring.