North Shore Bank, located on Andover Street in Peabody, was robbed Thursday afternoon by two males, and police are still searching for the suspects, according to the Peabody Patch. Police were alerted to a suspicious male in the bank at approximately 2:30 p.m. The man demanded money and left with an undetermined amount, according to a Peabody detective. Surveillance videos reveal one man wearing sunglasses, a hat, and a hood demanding money from a bank teller. There was apparently no weapon, and no one was injured. Police are looking for a Toyota Camry and are asking citizens to call with any information.
From the perspective of a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, there are several issues in this report worth discussing. First of all, the Toyota Camry is perhaps the most common type of car on the road. It has been the best-selling car in America for 10 consecutive years, according to autoguide.com. There is no indication in this article that the police are looking for a particular color, year or license plate number. There is also no indication that the police have any physical description of an operator or passenger of the Camry. This is important because in order to lawfully stop a car or a person based on a description, the description cannot be so general that it would include a large number of people. The description must be sufficiently particularized, and it has to go beyond obvious details. Here, the bare “Toyota Camry” description is extremely general. If any person is stopped in connection with this investigation, they may have strong grounds for arguing that the stop was illegal.
It might be that police ultimately receive a tip that a person is suspicious because they were seen with a large amount of cash. If this becomes the case, it should be noted that police must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before they can legally stop a person, and being in possession of cash is not a criminal activity. Here in Massachusetts, where a robbery is unarmed, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used force or threat of force or assaulted and put the other person in fear. In one Massachusetts case, the Appeals Court said that a jury could find that a defendant’s masked appearance and his gestures could be a basis for fear that the defendant would use force unless his demands were complied with. In Massachusetts, the crime is punishable by life or any term of years. Bank robbery is a federal crime under Title 18, section 2113 of the United States Code. Under the federal law, bank robbery is punishable by up to 20 years.