Offbeat

The Mysterious Tale of the Collar Bomb Heist

Erie, Pennsylvania, was the site of a most bizarre crime that occurred in the summer of 2003. Brian Wells was a middle-aged pizza deliveryman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid for his mistake with his life.

He walked into a PNC Bank carrying a short cane in his right hand and a strange bulge under the collar of his T-shirt. Nervously, he passed the teller a note that said it all:

“Gather employees with access codes to vault and work fast to fill bag with $250,000. You have only 15 minutes.”

Wells then lifted his shirt, an action, which revealed the bomb dangling from his neck. The frightened teller filled a bag with $8,702 in cash and handed it over. Some 15 minutes later, troopers apprehended Wells. They tossed him to the pavement and cuffed his hands behind his back.

He told them a story, warning them that there was little time and that the bomb was going to go off. While out making deliveries, he had been accosted at gunpoint by a group of men who chained the bomb around his neck and forced him to rob the bank. The officers notified the bomb squad, Wells asked them to contact his boss and another 25 minutes elapsed without incident.

Without warning, an accelerating beeping noise belched from the interior of the device. The bomb detonated, blasting Wells violently onto his back and ripping a 5-inch gash in his chest. He died on the pavement some three minutes before the bomb squad arrived on the scene.

The bomb itself was made by hand with professional tools, and was no amateur creation. There were two parts: a triple-banded metal collar with four keyholes and a three-digit combination lock, and an iron box containing two 6-inch pipe bombs loaded with smokeless powder. The hinged collar locked around his neck functioned like a giant handcuff. The device also contained two kitchen timers and one electronic countdown timer. It had bogus wires running through it that were meant to throw off those who tried to disable it.

The police discovered the 2-foot-long cane, which turned out to be an ingeniously crafted homemade gun.

Is there a moral to this story?

Sadly no, for Mr. Wells’ only mistake was that unwittingly, he became a convenient target for cruel criminals. He died for absolutely no reason at all.

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  1. Internet says:

    It’s a greates misfortune in Japan. Earthquake, tsunami now troubles in nuclear plant and three patients at a hospital tested positive for radiation exposure… I can’t understand why we can’t predict and to resist such a tragedies? We are able to send man to the moon, we are able even to explore Mars, and we can’t protect ourselves on Earth? Japanese, I’m with you.