Low-hanging fruit

Israeli ex-con holds up two banks armed with an avocado

Suspect caught after stealing tens of thousands of shekels from Beersheba banks by threatening to ‘blow up’ a painted avocado

Avocados. (Yosef Silver, This American Bite)
Avocados. (Yosef Silver, This American Bite)

A 47-year-old resident of southern Israel is facing charges of aggravated robbery after successfully stealing nearly NIS 30,000 ($8,300) from two Beersheba banks last month — using an avocado.

The man, a resident of a Bedouin village near the southern metropolis, entered a Postal Bank branch at the Big Beersheba shopping mall in mid-May, and handed the cashier a misspelled note demanding she hand over the cash at her counter.

“Hand over the money in the drawer,” the note read, but misspelled the Hebrew word for drawer, according to a report Thursday on Channel 12 television news.

When the cashier appeared to hesitate, the robber spoke for the first time, saying, “Put the money in the bag quickly or I’ll throw this grenade.”

It was then that attention was drawn to the round, black object he was holding in his right hand, which he claimed was a grenade but later turned out to have been avocado he painted black.

A man robbing a Postal Bank branch in Beersheba in May, 2019, wielding an avocado he claimed was a grenade. (Israel Police)

He walked out of the bank branch with over NIS 16,000 ($4,450) in cash.

Five days later, the same man walked into another branch of the Postal Bank at the Oren Center shopping area in the southern city and repeated his previous method, brandishing a blackened avocado and threatening to blow up the place. He left the bank with another NIS 12,000 ($3,300) in cash.

Overhead security cameras provided few clues to the man’s identity, as he took care in both robberies to wear hats that covered his face, as well as sunglasses and, in one case, an eye patch.

But police tracked cellphone locations during the times of the robberies and followed several leads before finding the suspect, who turned out to have a criminal record, including once serving a three-year prison term for robbery.

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