Dirt Stupid Bank Robber Strikes Again, Gets Caught Thanks to IHOP

Michael Bellini allegedly couldn't finish his 7 year sentence on bank robbery charges without robbing three more banks in four days. And it was a meal at the International House of Pancakes that led to his downfall.

Convicted bank robber Michael Bellini in a 2010 FBI photo.

Convicted bank robber and pancake enthusiast Michael Bellini in a 2010 FBI photo.

The past week has been a busy one for Michael Bellini. According to federal prosecutors, the 34-year-old Montgomery County man robbed three Center City banks in four days, all while he was still serving a sentence for two other bank robberies. In the end, his craving for IHOP led authorities right to him. Let us explain.

Bellini was arrested this week and charged with robbing the PNC Bank at 900 Walnut Street on February 13th, a TD Bank on Broad Street on February 14th, and a Beneficial Bank on Chestnut Street on February 16th. Good thing the banks were closed on Presidents Day.

The FBI alleges that Bellini’s M.O. was the same at each bank: He’d hand the teller a demand note claiming he had a gun and demanding cash without dye packs or GPS devices, and then he’d walk out with the loot, a total of $4,670 from the three banks. At least one of the tellers managed to slip in a GPS unit, and investigators later located the GPS device and about half of the cash from that take on the 700 block of Locust Street.

He had done this all before.

In 2010, the FBI arrested Bellini for robbing the Citibank at 1211 Walnut twice. In August 2010, Bellini was sentenced to 84 months for those crimes. Now if you’re good at math, you’re probably thinking: Wait, that would mean that he wouldn’t finish his sentence until 2017. And you’d be right. At some point — the Bureau of Prisons has yet to tell us when — Bellini was transferred from federal prison to a halfway house in North Philadelphia. According to the BOP, Bellini escaped from that halfway house on February 12th, and he was listed as an escapee at the time of the recent robberies.

Employees at each bank were able to make positive identifications of Bellini from a photo array, and the FBI also had a lab running forensics on the demand notes. But it turns out that Bellini wound up closing the case for them.

On Tuesday, after allegedly leaving Beneficial Bank with $1,484 of money that wasn’t his, he must have been feeling hungry. Now if we had been in federal prison for years and suddenly came into some cash, we’d probably wait for Vetri to open and try to get a table. But not Bellini. No, he decided to eat at the IHOP on Walnut Street, about a three-minute walk from the bank. When he was done his meal, he refused to pay, and a manager called the police. The cops showed up, and Bellini told them who he was, later giving a full confession to the FBI, say prosecutors.

Here’s hoping he at least went all in on the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity.

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