By Bob Uphues
The fourth time Steve Briggins walked up to the counter at the TCF Bank branch inside the Jewel-Osco at 7122 W. 40th St. in Stickney on April 11, the branch manager had had enough.
"You need to get a day job," the branch manager told Briggins, a 56-year-old Brookfield resident who allegedly robbed the bank three times between December 2016 and March. "You got to stop coming here."
Briggins responded, "OK, I will," but not before ordering a teller to give him "big bills" and to "make it quick."
Briggins walked out of the grocery store with $1,050, according to prosecutors, and got into in his burgundy Cadillac to drive away, but traffic prevented him from leaving the parking lot before a Stickney police officer arrived to arrest him.
According to the FBI's Chicago bureau, the April 11 incident was the ninth bank robbery Briggins has committed since mid-December. In addition to the four hold-ups in Stickney, Briggins also allegedly robbed TCF Bank branches in Alsip, Oak Lawn, Franklin Park and Westchester.
And it appears the latest wave of bank robberies isn't the first for Briggins. In 1999, he was convicted of bank robbery, sentenced to seven years in federal prison, and ordered to pay more than $34,000 in restitution.
He was suspected in 1998 of robbing a dozen banks, 11 of them inside Jewel-Osco stores, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
According to federal court records, Briggins filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2016. He listed his address as an apartment in the 4600 block of Maple Avenue, Brookfield, and his occupation as a housekeeper at Hines V.A. Hospital.
In the April 11 incident, the bank teller reportedly recognized Briggins as he approached the counter. The teller made a noise, alerting the branch manager, who confronted him.
"Are you serious?" the branch manager reportedly told Briggins, who handed the teller a note while talking on his cellphone and said, "Let's make this quick."
When the teller handed Briggins $50 and $100 bills, he reportedly asked for more money. When the teller said there was no more cash, Briggins reportedly demanded more money. The teller then handed over two more $100 bills, according to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court on April 12.
Police recovered the cash from a female passenger in Briggins' car. Briggins reportedly asked the woman to go inside the store first to see how busy the bank was and then gave her the cash as police pulled over the getaway car.
It's unclear from the complaint whether the female was charged with a crime.