Floor Mat Bandit Caught in New York City!

by Chris Martin on November 18, 2013

It’s a scene straight out of a TV police comedy drama: a man goes on a reckless bank robbing spree throughout New York City. Police are initially baffled; but after some persistent detective work, they finally identify the suspect and his whereabouts. So they track down the culprit, discover him holding his loot, and issue that familiar order:

“Put down the mats and raise your hands above your head!”

No, that’s not a typo. This really happened. (Well, probably not exactly like that, but you get the idea…)

Busted!

Earlier this year, authorities were puzzled over a series of thefts of floor mats that sat outside various bank branches around the Big Apple. These financial institutions reported what turned out to be dozens of such incidents. In fact, a spokeswoman for JP Morgan Chase bank, apparently the burglar’s favorite, reported a total of 37 incidents where mats were stolen from their branches.

The M.O. wasn’t always the same. Sometimes, the thief would strike late at night. Other times, he would snatch the mats in broad daylight or even during crowded periods. If the mat lay inside an enclosure where automated teller machines were positioned, he would use a debit card that he had swiped from a purse previously to gain access to them. And he targeted banks all over Manhattan from close to the Staten Island Ferry all the way to the Upper West Side – sometimes coming back to purloin the replacement mats from places he had already victimized.

The big break came in the case on May 25, when a mat theft was reported just after it occurred around 9am. A police officer spied the man walking down the street with the mat and placed him under arrest. He’s officially charged with half a dozen mat thefts.

Here are some other strange aspects of this highly unusual case:

  • The suspect was identified as 55-year old William Footman. That’s right – the man who allegedly stole items designed to be trod upon by feet had a surname of Footman.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, Footman claims to have worked for a rug company periodically since the 1970s. One of the perks he enjoyed at that job was free rugs for his home.
  • Cash turned out to be the motivating force behind the burglaries after all. Footman admitted that he sold some of the mats for $30 to local bodegas. Why bodegas? “Their floors get wet,” Footman told the New York Times.
  • Again not surprisingly, Footman has spent time in the slammer. He was recently released from prison after serving a three-year sentence.
  • Footman claims to have 15 grown daughters. What’s that like? According to Footman, “[I]t’s like I’ve got 15 mothers.”

Not William Footman.

Perhaps you’re asking how your business can protect itself from a would-be floor mat thief. While there’s no foolproof system, it’s probably wise to bring in your mats at night whenever possible. If you must leave them out, try to have a security camera pointing at the mat to identify anyone who might steal it. And you may want to invest in a logo mat – after all, a mat with your business name on it might be harder to sell to another business and would therefore be less attractive to thieves.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a high-quality floor mat, check out Ultimate Mats‘ wide selection of products. You’re found to find a mat that suits your needs. Just be on the lookout for mat bandits!

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