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Three men were allegedly on their way to rob an armored car hauling money for Sun Trust Bank on Saturday when the job went wrong.

A task force made up of members of the FBI and Metropolitan Police Department, acting on information from a “reliable source,” was already watching the Southeast home of Ricardo Hunter, 53. At 9:15 a.m, the stakeout eyeballed Hunter and Nathaniel Bailey, 57, as they hopped into a green Ford Taurus SE Station Wagon and drove off to pick up Daniel Webster Chapman, 23, according to court papers. The three rode to a New York Avenue NE Shell station, where they spotted the Brinks armored car and began to follow it.

Brinks’ suggests its vehicles are nearly impregnable, calling the truck “a vault on wheels, staffed by dedicated professionals with industry-leading security and firearms training.” But since 1927, when the Flatheads Gang used explosives to pull off the first armored car robbery, it’s been apparent that even a tank full of money can be gotten to.

The men tailed the vehicle for over a mile, law enforcement filings say, until it stopped at a spot near 31st and V Street NE. There, Hunter and Chapman, armed with handguns, got out of the Taurus and walked toward the armored car. But before they could start the heist, 70 law enforcement officers swooped in, according to the FBI. Faced with the small army, the men surrendered their weapons. Bailey, who authorities think might have been the wheel-man, was allegedly found in the Taurus with an AK-47 sitting beside him.

FBI spokeswoman Katherine Schweit emails that there was a reason for the overwhelming force, which involved SWAT and medical personnel. The force was there “to resolve conflicts which had the potential to involve three subjects who may have fled to three separate locations which would have required enough manpower to arrest the subjects, wherever they were, with no injuries to anyone involved.”

In the end, the three may not have planned an airtight caper.

The Taurus was in Bailey’s name, and the armored car was only carrying $2000. The trio have been indicted and face federal bank robbery charges.

The FBI says there have been 12 robberies or attempted robberies of armored cars in the District in the last 11 months. Authorities have made arrests in connection to four of them. That would seem to indicate that the other eight ended with successful escapes on the part of the stick-up artists. Back in September, when an armored car was looted in Georgetown, the FBI said it was too early to say whether there was a trend of such crimes emerging. Five days later, a man was shot while attempting to hold up an armored car on Rhode Island Avenue NE. We’ve asked the feds what their perspective is on the subject now, and are awaiting a response. In any case, the District’s armored cars may want to drive a little faster in the coming days.

Photo by AMagill Creative Commons License  Attribution 2.0 Generic