THE BLOTTER: Fruitful scam

And other tales of life in the ATL

0422 Blot Bananas Final 01
Photo credit: Illustration by Tray Butler

Police in Roswell, Ga. are warning about a prowling pair of pickpocketing thieves using “the banana distraction” method.

The two male pickpocketers targeted an elderly man shopping at the Aldi’s on Mansell Road, according to local news reports.

Police say Suspect #1 dropped a banana on the floor in front of the elderly man — and yelled “You’re standing on my banana!” Then the suspect shook the elderly man’s pant leg to distract him. Suspect #2 then allegedly stole the man’s wallet.

Both suspects then reportedly escaped in a white Chrysler Pacifica. Later, they used the elderly man’s credit cards to buy nearly $4,000 worth of stuff.
The “banana distraction” thieves are reportedly still at large.


Black Panther film director Ryan Coolger was recently in Atlanta, filming the sequel to his 2018 superhero smash hit, when he was mistaken for a bank robber. And handcuffed.

Coogler, age 35, was wearing a hat, sunglasses and a Covid face mask when he walked into a Bank of America location in Buckhead. Coogler walked up to a pregnant bank teller, handing over his identification, his California state ID, his Bank of America card, and bank pin number and note that reportedly read: "I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my bank account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I'd like to be discreet.”

According to Variety , the bank teller told her boss she suspected this was a robbery attempt, and the teller and called 911. Four cops from Atlanta Police Department showed up.

First the cops detained two of Coogler's associates (one male, one female) who were waiting outside in a SUV with the engine running. They put Coogler's associates in the back of a patrol car. Then, two of the cops handcuffed Coogler, who is Black, and walked him outside, placing him in the back of the police vehicle.

According to The New York Times , Coogler said to the cops, "I'm trying to get money out of my own account," and the bank teller "never said it was a problem." Coogler added. "She got scared when a Black dude handed her a note," Coogler said. "I don't know what else to say. If she was scared, she's got to admit that.”

After verifying Coogler's identity and his Bank of America account, the officers released him and his colleagues.

A Bank of America spokesman said: "We deeply regret that this incident occurred. It never should have happened and we have apologized to Mr. Coogler.”

Coogler apparently took being mistaken for a bank robber in stride. He said: "This incident never should have happened. However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on."

Multiple news sites went off about Coogler, a Black man, being profiled as a bank robber just for being, er, Black man withdrawing a large sum of cash.

Then, a plot twist. Turns out, the pregnant bank teller and her boss are Black as well.

Coolger told The New York Times that he was withdrawing the $12,000 to pay a medical assistant who works for his family.

Coogler's sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever , is due out in November.


A man from Dublin, Georgia is set to serve three years in federal prison for illegally getting a Covid-19 relief loan — and spending more than $57,000 of his loan money on a single collectible Pokemon card.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the 31-year-old suspect received $85,000 in loan money and spent $57,789 on the rare first-edition Pokemon card, which featured the Charizard dragon. Prosecutors say the 31-year-old will forfeit the collectible Pokemon card to the government as part of his prison sentence. Apparently, the U.S. government will put the rare Pokemon card up for auction.

The 31-year-old allegedly submitted false info to the U.S. Business Administration when he applied for the covid relief loan, falsely claiming he ran an "entertainment services" business with more than 10 employees. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.


Atlanta police said the "Gas Bandit" has stolen his "last gallon of petroleum" for a while. The Gas Bandit is accused of sliding under people's cars and using a drill to puncture their gas tanks and stealing all the gas — leaving not a drop behind. He swiped fuel from at least 10 people's vehicles in East Atlanta, Kirkwood and Edgewood neighborhoods.

Several victims told police they started their cars the next day, realizing they were totally out of gas, when they knew they had at least a partial tank. Some victims' cars were seriously fucked by the Bandit's drilling. One victim told WSB-TV, "I've got $2,000 worth of damages, not just in the gas tank, but damage to the fuel pump, which is a pretty big issue.”

Apparently, the "Gas Bandit" didn't realize that his own car — a Mercury Mountaineer SUV — and its license plate was recorded on several homeowners' surveillance cameras. Police started a lookout for the Gas Bandit's car — and spotted the Bandit at the intersection of Hosea Williams Drive and Rogers Avenue in Kirkwood. The Gas Bandit, who hails from Washington state, went to jail on felony charges of criminal trespass, damage to property and entering autos. Atlanta Police Department said in a statement, "We applaud the work of everyone involved in this odd case.” —CL—

The Blotter Diva compiles reports from the Atlanta Police Department and local news reports — and puts them into her own words.

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