Vail’s ‘Dumb and Dumber’ bank robbers back in the limelight
VAIL, Colo. – Five years after a bank robbery in Vail that gained instant international attention, the robbers are back home in Australia after spending more than four years each in federal prison.
Anthony Prince, then 20, and Luke Carroll, then 19, two Australians living in Vail and working at Pepi’s Sports, robbed the WestStar Bank in Vail in 2005. What followed grabbed media attention from around the world, and one Australian reporter dubbed the men as “Dumb and Dumber.”
An Australian television news crew is in Vail this week talking to Ryan Millbern of the Vail Police Department, the lead detective in the case. The documentary-style program, called “Australian Story,” should air this spring. It’s a program similar to “20/20” or “Dateline,” airing during prime time each week and attracting about 1 million viewers, said Kristine Taylor, one of the researchers in Vail for the assignment.
The story’s focus is on Anthony Prince, who got out of federal prison in the United States in February 2009. The Australian documentary will be the first time Prince goes public with his version of what happened during and after the March 21, 2005 robbery.
“My understanding (of the story) comes from Anthony’s point of view,” Taylor said. “He was pretty much waiting to get caught.”
When the pair robbed the Vail bank, not only were they wearing name tags from their jobs at Pepi’s, but they didn’t disguise their thick Australian accents. They also used their ski passes just moments later to get on a chairlift on Vail Mountain.
Millbern said it was great police work that helped identify the men in less than 10 minutes. Millbern and another officer had interviewed the guys just days earlier in relation to a credit card fraud case the police were investigating.
The guys were easily identifiable, too, Millbern said. One is really tall and thin, and the other short and stocky. And the accents were not hard to miss, either, he said.
Millbern said he understands why the attention surrounding the case generated plenty of laughs – the guys made a number of mistakes and later took pictures of each other in Denver flaunting the $130,000 in cash they had just stolen.
Millbern wants people to remember that the robbery wasn’t a joke, though, and that victims are still dealing with the emotional and physical effects from that day.
“On the surface, I absolutely understand why people laughed and called them ‘Dumb and Dumber,'” Millbern said. “But this was also a pretty violent crime.”
Millbern said the men held BB guns to tellers’ heads, and threw one teller to the ground. The guns might have been fake, but the tellers didn’t know that at the time, Millbern said.
Taylor said Prince’s story is a cautionary tale – he’s expressed sincere regret for what he did since the very beginning, Taylor said. The half-hour episode will address what the men were thinking – or not thinking – at the time of the crime and how they’ve coped with the aftermath.
It will also look into the effects on the families of the two men, both of whom are from Byron Bay, New South Wales, an affluent community, Taylor said.
“They come from very nice families,” Taylor said. “We’re looking at how (the families) navigate from this.”
Peter and Jennifer Prince, Anthony Prince’s parents, wrote a letter to the Vail Daily on March 30, 2005, apologizing for their son’s actions and the “damage inflicted on the community.”
“We fail to comprehend how our son who was raised in a family with strong ethical values and all the love and support in the world could contemplate such an act,” the letter said. “We will never understand the reason why. We know this act was so out of character for Anthony and we know that his remorse is absolute. Our thoughts are with you all.”
Millbern said he hopes the men learned their lesson. While the victims are still recovering, he said the men have paid their debt to our society, as determined by the judge.
“I truly hope they can move on and can lead productive lives,” Millbern said.
Information about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s program, Australian Story, is available at abc.net.au/austory.
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