Bank robbing 101: Joe Loya describes how he did it in ‘The Score: Bank Robber Diaries’

True Crime September 1, 2021
The Score: Bank Robber Diaries podcast art
Listen to ‘The Score: Bank Robber Diaries’

Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. Over the course of 14 months from 1988 to 1989, Joe Loya robbed an estimated 30 to 40 banks without ever pointing a gun at a teller. He would rob up to four banks in a day, even banks right next door to each other. He was motivated simply by rage, confidence, and the desire to never work a day in his life. If he could grab over $32,000 from a single bank, his largest take during his stint, he would never have to work again. And in “The Score: Bank Robber Diaries,” he tells us exactly how he did it.

How he evaded authorities, how he stole the money, how he survived seven years in jail for his thievery. Loya was dubbed the “Beirut Bandit” by officials for his Middle Eastern looks, despite actually being Mexican. He was charming to both women and men, and he is equally as charming in “The Score: Bank Robber Diaries.”

The podcast, suggested in episode 8 of Podsauce by “We Regret To Inform You: The Rejection Podcast” creator Terry O’Reilly, is a 15-part series through Loya’s life. From his first robbery, to his mother dying, to stabbing his abusive father in the neck at 16-years-old, to his release from prison. We wind through his life as told by him, his friends, his family, the bank tellers he robbed, and the FBI agent who caught him.

Episode 1: Beat or be beaten

Loya, a storyteller by trade (right behind being a successful bank robber) tells a tale of sadness, rage, wits, and guts. Guts – literal and metaphoric. Despite his nonviolent criminal record, he was a violent convict, as he quickly tells us in the first episode. It was the way to prove himself in prison: either beat or be beaten. He gives us a run down of his first 22-month stint in jail before his time robbing banks.

The first episode covers his petty crimes before his first bank robbing, which he actually got away with. His first robbery in 1985 at a San Diego Bank of America wasn’t what put him in jail that year. Instead, it was check fraud and car theft. But he found, after that first outing, that bank robbing was his calling. His forte. His expertise. And all he had to do was slide a threatening note to the teller and he’d be handed a few thousand dollars.

After his release from jail in 1988 is when he perfected his craft. Remember we mentioned how charming he is? He was so charming, that in 1989, when he was caught robbing another Bank of America in Cerritos, his bail was set at $50,000 and he was spared jail time.

After he was released, he hit at least five more banks before being arrested for good. So, yes, charming indeed.

“The Score: Bank Robber Diaries” is an immensely entertaining podcast from one of the best bank robbers modern America has ever seen. It is an even more detailed look at his personal life story than his book The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber. Also, funnily enough, he is close friends with Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black. Small world. Listen to “The Score: Bank Robber Diaries” for a moving life story, a phenomenal tale of car chases and FBI agents, and instructions on how to confidently rob a bank.

Listen to ‘The Score: Bank Robber Diaries’

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