Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Six Bank Robberies, Used Bicycle as Getaway Vehicle
JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columbia, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to robbing six Columbia banks, using a bicycle as his getaway vehicle.
Shaun Christopher Becker, 43, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charges contained in a June 15, 2015 federal indictment.
By pleading guilty today, Becker admitted that he robbed six Columbia banks between Nov. 20, 2014, and Jan. 3, 2015, using a bicycle for transportation and as a getaway vehicle.
On Nov. 20, 2014, Becker stole $3,890 from Missouri Bank II, 2500 Rangeline St. in Columbia. Becker slid a demand note across a teller counter that said, “Put all the bills in the bag, except for $1’s, be quiet, keep smiling, and nobody needs to get hurt. Thank you.” The teller complied and took the note with her to the drive through teller window, where she activated the alarm. She then closed the bag and returned it to Becker, but retained the demand note. Becker fled the bank on a dark-colored bicycle, possibly a mountain bike, and eluded capture.
On Nov. 28, 2014, Becker stole approximately $6,000 from First State Community Bank, 3200 Golden Bear Drive in Columbia. When Becker walked to the teller counter, the teller requested he remove his sunglasses. Becker ignored the teller and pulled a black bank bag from underneath his sweatshirt and laid it on the counter. He retrieved a demand note from within the bag and gave it to the teller. The note essentially stated, “Put all your large bills in the bag, keep smiling and no one will get hurt.” The teller complied and then returned both the bag and note to Becker, who calmly walked out of the bank and fled on a bicycle.
On Dec. 9, 2014, Becker stole $1,810 from UMB Bank, 1516 Chapel Hill Road in Columbia. Becker arrived at the bank riding a blue mountain bike; he entered the bank and walked to the teller counter. Upon reaching the counter, Becker, who was noticeably out of breath, slid a black bank bag and demand note across the counter toward the teller. The note was poorly written in pencil using lower case letters on the torn corner of a white piece of paper. The teller was only able to read the words “big bills” before Becker pulled the note back to himself. The teller concluded she was being robbed and gave Becker her stack of $100 bills. The teller did not include the $50 bills because she assumed they were too small, but relinquished them after Becker gave her a frustrated look. Becker collected the money from the counter, placed it into the black bag, calmly walked out of the bank, then got onto his bicycle and rode away. During the ensuing investigation, a police K-9 officer located the bicycle and a black shoulder bag which contained Becker’s clothing. The items were concealed in a wooded area behind a business located approximately a half-mile from the bank near the MKT Trail. Becker eluded capture.
On Dec. 15, 2014, Becker stole $600 from Boone County National Bank, 1916 Paris Road in Columbia. Becker arrived at the bank riding a bicycle. He laid his bike in the grass at the end of the walkway and walked into the bank. Becker immediately approached the teller counter, retrieving a black bank bag from underneath his sweatshirt as he approached. Once at the teller counter, Becker removed a demand note from the bank bag and presented it to the teller. She complied and gave the defendant $600 cash. Becker, who kept the demand note, then walked out of the bank, stuffing the bag into his pants as he departed. Once outside, he retrieved his bicycle and rode away.
On Dec. 22, 2014, Becker stole $2,000 from Regions Bank, 2114 Paris Road in Columbia. Becker arrived at the bank riding a bicycle, which he parked outside the bank. Becker walked into the bank and immediately approached the teller counter, which was protected by a bandit barrier. Becker produced a bag and a demand note and slid them under the barrier to the teller. The note read, “Put the 100’s, 50’s, and 20’s from the top drawer in the bag.” The teller complied. Becker asked for his note back, then walked out of the bank, stuffing the bag into his pants as he departed. Once outside, Becker retrieved his bicycle and rode away. Fresh bicycle tracks were located on a nearby bicycle trail, but Becker eluded capture. Surveillance from a neighboring business revealed that Becker had cased the area on his bicycle prior to the robbery.
On Jan. 3, 2015, Becker stole $1,394 from Boone County National Bank, 205 S. Keene St. in Columbia. Becker immediately approached the teller counter, where he retrieved a black folder from inside his open shirt. The teller recognized Becker as the serial bank robber operating in Columbia, and immediately activated her silent panic alarm. Becker placed the folder on the teller counter where he untied and opened the folder, then laid a demand note on the teller counter. The note essentially read, “Put 50’s and 100’s in the bag, no funny business, and no dye packs or bait money, keep smiling.” The teller complied; as she stepped away to fill the folder, Becker crumpled and ate the demand note. After obtaining the money, Becker left the bank, stuffed the folder into his shirt and fled east, out of view of bank staff. Investigation revealed that Becker escaped the area on a bicycle and fled east along a paved bicycle path near the bank. Approximately three-tenths of a mile from the bank, Becker ditched his bicycle and shed his outer layer of clothing. Becker stashed the clothing, with the folder, alongside a wooded creek that intersected the bicycle path. With the money stuffed into his boots, Becker started walking to a vehicle he had staged nearby.
Responding police officers, who had seen surveillance images from five prior bank robberies committed by Becker, recognized him walking along the shoulder of the road and detained him. A jogger who was on the bicycle path was brought to the scene, and identified Becker as a suspicious person seen walking out of the woods in the vicinity of the bicycle. A police K-9 discovered clothing nearby. Becker was detained for interview by officers and transported to the Columbia Police Department for questioning. At the station, officers recovered $1,394 from Becker that had been stolen from the bank. Becker confessed to the robbery to an FBI special agent, as well as to the other five robberies. He admitted committing the bank robberies to support a costly heroin addiction.
Under federal statutes, Becker is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution for each of the six counts. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department and the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.