The O. Zone

'Dumb and Dumber' snowboarding bank robber writes book about Vail debacle

By David O. Williams
Real AspenNovember 10, 2010

Remember the “Dumb and Dumber” snowboarding bank robbers who successfully made off with $130,000 from the WestStar Bank on Hanson Ranch Road in Vail Village back in 2005, only to be caught in a bumbling attempt to escape at Denver International Airport?

Well, if you'd forgotten, they're back. This time in a book by ringleader Anthony Prince of New Zealand called “Bank Robbery for Beginners.” Prince is living in Australia after serving four and half years in prison.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Prince would like to lose the Dumb and Dumber moniker: “I've been internationally humiliated for what I've done, so I feel I deserve to tell my side of the story.”

And he discovered an American prison is no place to end your working ski holiday in Vail: “There's a huge amount of racial segregation and prison politics and gang mentality. You just need to do what you need to do to survive.” A fact easily gleaned from most American prison movies.

Prince and Australian cohort Luke Carroll used BB guns and wore snowboarding gear and their work nametags (although Prince insists they were blank) to rob the bank where they did their own personal banking. They were instantly recognized by their accents.

They escaped by chairlift and made it down to Denver, but tipped a cab driver $20,000 and left bundles of cash in waste bins outside the terminal. Police recognized and apprehended them within eight minutes. Which is less time than it took members of the media to come up with the Dumb and Dumber nickname.

“For me and my naive mind at the time it was as simple as going and getting the money and leaving,” Prince said. “Nobody gets hurt, nobody emotionally and mentally scared, and I get home and it's all good, it's all gravy, but obviously that's very far from reality.”

“Far From Reality” might have been a better title for his book. The only thing “Dumb and Dumber” than using it to figure out “Bank Robbery for Beginners” would be shelling out 32 bucks for it. Now that would be robbery.


comments: 4 Comments on "'Dumb and Dumber' snowboarding bank robber writes book about Vail debacle"

Jessica – Nov. 13, 2010, at 10:45 a.m.

They robbed us and escaped on a Vail chair lift with their snowboards. I was one of the two tellers there that day, the one who was taken to the vault. It was a horrific experience, worse going through it than I had ever imagined a robbery would be, and I had worked in banks before then since I was seventeen years old. But – after time had passed and I’d made my peace with it, I was able to laugh along with the rest of them. It is indeed a funny story. I’ve joked about those boys having nothing better to do in Vail on a powder day.

The fact that it was a good story, and a funny one at that, actually made my experience more difficult immediately after the robbery. It was so funny and stupid overall to everyone that people overlooked the fact that Kim and I did not know the guns weren’t “real,” and so what we experienced was the real fear in which life flashes before your eyes, and you think about who you love and how much you don’t want them to find out this happened to you, and you are terrified. I can’t even describe the physical manifestations of the fear on my body; I just hope it is something I never have to experience again. While the robbers reached celebrity status in Australia, the two of us watched people laugh about it and say things like “Well, they were just BB guns. Couldn’t you tell? Hahaha.” People were completely oblivious to how scared we actually were. And, for the record, nothing was done for the two of us. The bank provided me with my three annual trips to see a therapist through its Employee Assistance Program, and nothing more. The other teller suffered an injury that she has to live with every single day.

Five years later, when Anthony Prince, one of the robbers, was out of prison, I decided to contact him through Facebook, because it was easy to find people that way. Right after the robbery, he had written a long and thoughtful letter of apology, which caused me to care about him as a person and think of him often. It was because of his heartfelt apology in the beginning that I wanted to reach out to him and tell him I had forgiven him. He had made a terrible decision as a teenager, and I wanted him to know that I was letting him off the hook, hoping it would free him somewhat. Shortly after my letter to him, I agreed to be part of a documentary about Anthony’s side of the story, on an Australian Story episode called Dumb & Dumber. At that point, the ending of the documentary highlighted my forgiveness, for which I received hundreds of encouraging letters from people around the world who were touched. The whole experience of contacting Anthony after all of that time, being part of his documentary, and reading the kind words of [embarrassed] Australians, helped me to wrap the whole thing up in my mind and get some real closure.

Unfortunately, that was not how the story ended for me. Last week, an Australian friend on Facebook informed me that Anthony had written a book about the robbery and was “cashing in” on it. My immediate response was not one of surprise, until I did a search and came up with an excerpt from the book, called Holding a gun at a girl who looked like my sister. He was talking about me. I read this excerpt, in which he described the robbery in great detail, with a large emphasis on how scared I was. Without any warning of my story being in his book and my experience being told from his point of view, you can imagine it was a pretty uncomfortable thing to read. I didn’t even know about the book! Reading my experience from his point of view was, well, it was weird. It made me feel incredibly violated and disrespected. I could not believe that he hadn’t at least warned me about it before it came out –or better yet, asked my permission to explain it the way he had. There is no better way to describe what it was like to read it than “I flipped out.” It was as if he’d torn the wound open again. After all of the time and mental energy I’d put forth to be at peace with this, after my efforts to forgive him and encourage others to give him a second chance, he’d dropped a bomb on me. I immediately posted a response to his book and the way I felt on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cwZtgvSNUs. Since no media person in the United States has ever asked me how I felt about the robbery or any of this, I thought YouTube was the best way to get my word out there. I was able to share the link with Australians and get the link spread around.

Anthony has since contacted me, as well as his co-author, who had no idea I didn’t know about the book. Anthony said he didn’t think I would be interested in it. The co-author, Jack Marx, apologized for this and explained that Prince would be using the money to help pay his parents back for what all of this cost them. Let me say that I feel for Anthony, and he has not completely lost my support, but his decision not to tell me about the book and to let me stumble upon the story of victim-through-criminal’s-eyes was beyond inconsiderate.

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