Ex-Cop Used Police Training to Rob Banks - NBC Bay Area

Ex-Cop Used Police Training to Rob Banks



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    Everyone should have a career to fall back on. For Santa Rosa police officer Robert Starling, that career was armored car robber.

    In his ongoing trial, Starling described how his police training helped him to plan successful heists. Knowing the armored car company's policy for shootouts enabled him to select an optimal weapon. His knowledge of police procedure allowed him to distract cops with phony 911 calls. He avoided suspicion by strategically depositing his ill-gotten gains.

    Starling wasn't always on the wrong side of the law. He spent years serving in the Santa Rosa police department, and before that, the Army. But he had trouble showing up for work and didn't write enough tickets, and left the police force.

    It was during his time as a driver for an armored car company that he began to notice security flaws that he could exploit. By identifying a few predictable moments of vulnerability, Starling netted $180,000 during his first stickup. Hundreds of thousands of dollars followed in subsequent robberies.

    But Starling was undone by his accomplice Andrew Esslinger and by the careful work of his former colleagues. Esslinger wore a wire to record incriminating conversations after police were able to trace phony 911 calls to him.

    Starling has pled guilty. He faces 40 years in prison if convicted.