Sloppy Handwriting Derails Attempted Bank Robbery

A Portola bank heist was aborted after the teller was unable to read the would-be robber’s note.

An attempted bank robbery in the Portola neighborhood yesterday may have been thwarted by poor handwriting and cold feet, according to police, as the would-be bandit apparently changed his mind and left before collecting any loot.

“This was by no means a Daniel Ocean, high-level robbery or heist,” said Officer Adam Lobsinger, a San Francisco Police Department spokesperson. “It doesn’t appear there were any threats of violence, (and there) didn’t appear to be any weapons.”

Lobsinger said the suspect, an Asian man approximately 30-years-old, walked into a bank on the 2600 block of San Bruno Avenue at 12:30 p.m., wrote a note on a piece of paper, and handed it to a teller. Parts of the note were apparently illegible to the teller, but he was able to make out the words “all the cash.”

“The teller tried to clarify a couple things, then the guy took the note and went back out on San Bruno Avenue,” Lobsinger said.

The bank has video surveillance footage of the attempted robbery, but SFPD is not releasing it at this time.

“It is strange,” Lobsinger said. “Like, ‘Give me all the money. Nope? See you later.’”

The only bank on the 2600 block of San Bruno Avenue appears to be Bank of the West, who declined to comment for this story. Other banks in the neighboring blocks include First Federal Savings and Loan, and Sterling Bank and Trust, neither of which were aware of the attempted robbery when contacted by SF Weekly. (A Bank of America branch is located two blocks away but has been closed during the shelter-in-place order, according to people who work in the vicinity.)

Lobsinger said the attempted robbery appears to be an isolated incident.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the bank is located in the Portola neighborhood, not Bayview.

Michael Toren is an SF Weekly staff writer covering news. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter @Michael_Toren.

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