Trying to get help, heartbroken 74-year-old widower robbed a bank
This bank heist was weird from the start.
The robber wanted money but wouldn’t take the $2,000. He scolded the teller, saying he’d only accept $1,100. Nothing more, nothing less. After leaving the West Boca Wells Fargo, he didn’t even keep the money.
The next day, when the deputies tracked Sandy Hawkins down, he didn’t put up a fight. He showed them the note that he had forgotten to hand the bank teller. “Give me $1,100.00 Now. No Alarms,” read the note, scrawled on a tattered deposit slip. “Hope to get caught.”
Hawkins, 74, of West Boca, resembles Santa with his red suspenders and his stark white hair and beard. He recently opened up for the first time in an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
He said he can’t pinpoint exactly why he robbed the bank last month. He figures it was an impulsive act of indiscretion — driven by the need to have a distraction from the death of his wife and everything else that he has lost.
Hawkins had a solid middle-class life ever since coming to the United States for work from Canada in the 1990s.
By the mid-1990s, Hawkins was a maintenance supervisor at a Deerfield Beach housing complex and his social life revolved around annual trips to Mexico and meeting up with regulars at a bar each night after work.
A woman named Linda also was a regular at the Muddy Waters bar in Deerfield
Beach. When her husband died, Hawkins got up the nerve to ask her on a date.
Yes, she said, let’s go for a walk on the beach in Deerfield. They drank pricey champagne and nibbled on shrimp. He was smitten. At the age of 52, Hawkins married for the first time. They vowed to never go to bed angry and to kiss each morning and each night.
Their life together went by in a flash.
In September last year, nearly four months after they celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary, Linda told her husband she had pain in her side.
With another Mexico vacation coming up, Hawkins said he didn’t want to take any chances and took her to the emergency room. After she was admitted, doctors told him she’d undergo tests and that he should come back the following day, he said.
Hawkins said he fell to his knees when he learned Linda Hawkins had blood cancer and there was nothing anyone could do because the cancer had attacked her major organs.
His wife was admitted into the hospital on a Tuesday. By Thursday she was in a coma. Then Friday, Hawkins said his wife shot up from the hospital bed and said, “Where’s my goodnight kiss?” And then she died.
He said he has never recovered.
And so he said he left it all: His rented mobile home, his furnishings and a $21-an-hour job at an air conditioning company.
From May until August, Hawkins said he said he slept in his Hyundai Sante Fe in the Walmart parking lot in West Boca. In September, his trusty shelter was repossessed.
An acquaintance let him stay at his home for a while.
Hawkins was living not far from State Road 7, the main road by where the Wells Fargo is situated along with many restaurants and auto stores.
So he woke up one Monday morning and scribbled a terse message on a note, planning to hold up the bank, he said.
At 11:32 a.m. Nov. 18, Hawkins entered the bank, wearing glasses and a “Make America Great Again” Tshirt, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
He asked the teller for $1,100. “This is a robbery, I have a weapon,” he said, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Though in reality, he did not have a weapon.
The teller began counting the cash: “$100, $200, $300,” offering $2,000. Hawkins told the teller that was too much. And so the teller counted over, this time stopping at $1,100.
Sandy Hawkins, cash in hand, walked out of the bank with the holdup note still in his pocket. He would show the note to the deputies later.
Hawkins said he walked across the street and while cutting through the hedges, the stack of cash from the bank became ensnared in the hedges. Hawkins said he left the cash there and continued to walk to a house where he was staying about a 10-minute walk away.
Hawkins was caught the following day on Nov. 19. after police viewed surveillance footage with owners of a bar neighboring the bank. They recognized Hawkins, giving investigators his name.
This was Hawkins’s first arrest.
Hawkins spent seven days in a Palm Beach County Jail on an unarmed robbery charge before his public defender was able to get him released on home detention at a facility in Delray Beach.
Hawkins’ pending. court case is
Sandy Hawkins says he lived a happy, solid life until September 2018, when his wife of 22 years died unexpectedly. In November, he walked into a Wells Fargo bank branch and robbed it, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.